Calvados is an apple brandy from the French region of Lower Normandy. Apple orchards and brewers are mentioned as far back as the 8th century by Charlemagne.
Calvados starts out life as a dry cider, where old apple varieties are chosen that are either tart, bitter or sweet, before being pressed, and then distilled into 'eaux de vie'.
It is then aged for a minimum of two years in oak before being bottled as Calvados. The quality of the product is reflected in the terroir (the land), the apples selected, their pressing, and of course the ageing process.
The first known Norman distillation was carried out by Lord de Gouberville in 1554, and the guild for cider distillation was created about 50 years later in 1606.
In the 17th century the traditional cider farms expanded but taxation and prohibition of cider brandies were enforced elsewhere other than Brittany, Maine and Normandy.