When it comes to French apple brandy (Calvados), Busnel (which has been producing since 1820) isn’t as big a name in the U.S. as Boulard, but that may be set to change as ultra-premium expressions like this XO bottling, carrying a 12 year old age statement, hit the domestic market.
Curious about the label? Pays d’Auge is a prized apple producing area in Normandy, and in fact it was the first sub-area officially zoned for Calvados production in 1942. All Calvados produced here must be double distilled. Some 40 different apple varieties from this region are used in the production of this Calvados from Busnel.
On the XO, a slight cider vinegar character gives the nose an immediate pungency, with toasty wood and gentle vanilla imbuing the spirit with the essence of Calvados. The palate is a bit gentler with fresh apple notes, moderated sweetness, and a touch of cinnamon. There’s still plenty of funk here to go around, though, with mushroom and leather notes dominating the experience as the finish emerges — sharp, slightly sour with tart apple notes, and a bitter edge that lasts for some time.