It’s entirely appropriate that fifth generation distiller Jean-Roger Groult is paying tribute to the 70th anniversary of the liberation of France from Nazi control. In fact, this is the third in a series of special limited editions, the others marking the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the famous battle.
As one of the distilleries’ press releases reveals, “In 1939 several years before the invasion, Jean-Roger’s grandfather, Roger Groult, for whom the distillery is named, was serving in the French resistance as a truck driver when he was wounded by an exploding hand grenade. Following the attack, he was captured and sent to a Nazi military hospital with shrapnel in both his legs. In 1941, because of the severity of his injuries, he was released and allowed to return to his family and farm located in Saint-Cyr Du Ronceray in Normandy. During 1942, in an effort to protect as much Calvados as possible from the Nazis, producers from lower Normandy, like Roger Groult, worked with the INAO to create an official Calvados Pays d’Auge AOC, (Appellation d’Origine Controlee), declaring their beloved apple brandy a national cultural treasure to be protected from enemy requisition during war. Shortly after the D-Day invasion, Nazi soldiers commandeered and occupied a portion of the Groult family property. During this time, most French men, including Roger Groult were needed away from home in the war effort. Madam Groult, who was left to tend the farm, used to tell the story of their first taste of liberation, which came in early August, 1944. Apparently, the Nazi soldiers who had commandeered the farm intercepted radio transmissions stating allied forces were now in Vimoutiers, (20 miles to the South) so they turned and asked Madam Groult how close that village was to the farm. Thinking quickly, Jean-Roger’s grandmother convincingly told the soldiers Vimoutiers was just down the road, causing the soldiers to immediately flee in the other direction. Official liberation of Saint-Cyr Du Ronceray finally arrived a few weeks later on August 22, 1944.”
Jean-Roger says, “Because the invasion took place on June 6, 1944, this Calvados will have a minimum age of 6 years and only 1,944 bottles will be produced.” The label for this limited edition D-Day Calvados was inspired by a hand-drawn landing map borrowed from an old French journal. It loosely depicts the Omaha Beach invasion site and lists the allied nations who participated in the assault against the Nazi occupation.
Roger Groult D-Day 70th Anniversary Calvados Pays D’Auge (82 proof)
Visual: Pale gold.
Nose: Aged apple is very much upfront, reminiscent of an Autumn harvest and cider mill.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth with creamy and rich apple notes. After half a minute, the apple opens up into a fresh and juicy experience that makes you swear you’ve taken a bite from a just picked fruit. The aging has not overtaken the flavor of the spirit, but rather enhanced it.
Finish: Lingering notes of apple flesh, peel and just the slightest hint of vanilla and spice.
Overall: One of the smoother calvados I’ve had. A fine sipping brandy that is deserving of special celebrations. Perfect as a finishing touch to a French meal.
GSN Rating: A
For more information go to: Calvados Groult