As today we celebrate World Bee Day, I wanted to share with you my latest discovery: Avallen Calvados, an award-winning sustainable apple brandy on a mission to help save wild bee populations around the world and spread their #BeePositive message far and wide.
True to traditional production methods and committed to a green future, Avallen is made simply from real apples, water and time. As soon as you open the bottle you cannot help noticing the fresh apple burst aroma. The delicious apple scent blends beautifully with tasting notes of floral honeysuckle, a rich warming hint of vanilla on the body and lingering toffee apple finish.
The department of Calvados, on the coast of Normandy, has given its name to the famous traditional apple brandy. Made with cider from selected apples grown in the area, Calvados is then distilled into eau de vie before being aged in oak barrels. The process is closely monitored in line with AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) designation which protects and strictly regulates the production methods.
In France, Calvados is not only enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif but can also be paired with food (apple cake or crepes) or even in Trou Normand (a strange French tradition where you are served a glass of Calvados mid-meal, with or without apple sorbet, in order to stimulate digestion and make room for more food!)
When creating Avallen, founders by Stephanie Jordan and Tim Etherington-Judge, both veterans in the drink industry, set out to share their love and passion for nature by crafting the most sustainable spirit brand they could make, from orchard to bottle. In light of its eco-vision and achievements, Avallen was presented with the Green Launch Awards 2019 by the Drinks Business. Transparency is also key to the company’s ethics and can be traced on Provenance.org.
Avallen, which means ‘apple tree’ in Old Cornish, uses 40 varieties of apples from farms located within 20km of the distillery with 2% of them grown on-site at Distillerie Coquerel in the region of La Manche, which has been pesticide-free since 2016. This guarantees not only an unadulterated flavour but also a manufacturing process that is in perfect balance with nature. Aged in French oak barrels for 2 years, Avallen is completely natural, using only wild yeast present on the apple skins and with no added sugar, caramel or boisé – ensuring a 100% pure product.
Avallen’s bottles, labels and corks have all been selected from French suppliers for their environmental approach, in order to minimise the carbon footprint as much as possible. The simple and elegant straight-line bottle is enhanced with a label printed with environmentally friendly ink on paper made from recycled paper and apple waste products. The cork is made from 100% natural cork and wood with an unvarnished finish.
Avallen is a brand with a purpose and donates €0.50 of each bottle sold to organisations and charities that champion the protection of bees, the restoration of their habitats and the ban of harmful neonicotinoids.
Bees and apples are closely linked to one another as without the bees pollinating the apple tree flowers there would be no apples. In fact, without bees and pollinators we would not have much to eat. Did you know that a third of our food production is dependent on pollinators? So dependent, indeed, that dystopian images from Asia show fields even now being hand-pollinated by humans in response to the dramatic decline in bee populations.
This year, as part of its commitment to planting 10,000 flowering plants by 2022, Avallen was due to sponsor RHS Malvern Spring show and support the rehoming of the show’s 380 unused plants, working with Merlin Griffiths, the famous barman from Channel 4’s First Dates, and garden designer Jane Scott Moncrieff. In spite of the festival now being cancelled, the project is still very much alive and the plants have now found a home in Merlin’s Country Inn; The Maltster’s in Badby, Northamptonshire, where they will be used to create a commemorative garden for Violette Szabó GC, a WW2 SOE agent who operated behind enemy lines in Normandy, the home of Calvados.
The short ageing process gives Avallen its light amber glow and a fresh and crispy taste. While traditionally Calvados is drunk neat, as a digestif, Avallen’s deliciously fresh, crispy apple notes pair surprisingly well with tonic, mixers and other spirits.
The Avallen Tonic, above, is made by mixing 50ml of Avallen Calvados with tonic water. A complete revelation!
There are many innovative ways to enjoy Avallen Calvados in cocktails and long drinks including the signature True Normand (Avallen Calvados, fresh-pressed apple juice and ginger beer) or the Ambrosia (Avallen Calvados, pear liqueur, mint leaves, sprig of fresh lavender, lemon juice, honey water and sparkling water) to name just a few. The possibilities are endless! Of course, alternatively, you could simply enjoy it neat, at room temperature!
Calvados is a fruity and smooth drink that I personally find more interesting than Cognac. Suitable for vegans, Avallen Calvados is not only smooth, crisp and deliciously flavoursome, but it also stands out for its ethics. So refreshing to find a spirit brand that you can enjoy and feel good about at the same time!
Avallen is available in the UK from Ocado, Master of Malts and Whisky Exchange. SRP £35. You can learn more about the brand at www.avallenspirits.com.
Competition time !!
Avallen has kindly offered a bottle of its award-winning Calvados alongside a Bee Seed Bom to one lucky winner.
ENTER AVALLEN’S COMPETITION BY SELECTING AN ENTRY OPTION IN THE BOX BELOW*
(* you must be 18 or over)
Disclaimer: this review and competition are sponsored by Avallen. All thoughts and opinions remain my own and are completely honest.