La Distillerie des Ambres
One woman’s dream, now taken root
Here, in the verdant valleys with their orchards, hedgerows and streams, where spring garlands apple trees with blossom and the sea is never far away, the Distillerie des Ambres nestles deep in its native Normandy.
This landscape tells the story of a family with its roots now firmly entrenched in the Pays d’Auge. This is the story of a Calvados distillery, born of one woman’s devotion to this earth and this land, and her indefatigable passion for nature. This is also the story of graceful harmonies, blending the best of what nature has to offer and releasing the infinite aromatic bounty of the apple.
«The smell of my country was in an apple.
I bit into it, my eyes closed in sleep,
And could believe I stood among lush green grass. »
Lucie Delarue-Mardrus, poet, 1902
Interpreting the sincerity of nature
Some landscapes you adopt, others adopt you. In the 1950’s, Françoise Primat and her husband began taking their holidays in the Manoir des Ambres where, in the studio or out in the countryside, Françoise would paint. She painted a portrait of the Pays d’Auge, capturing its volatile skies, misty and sunny meadows and its orchards which, from season to season, offered up an infinite variety of green. An admirer of Vermeer and Cézanne, she relentlessly worked to interpret the « sincerity of nature ».
Françoise Primat became deeply attached to this landscape and for forty years would press the apples from her orchards, have their essence distilled and age her cider brandy in the hushed cellars of the Manoir. While she fell quite naturally into the local Calvados tradition, producing an artisanal product from and for the local area, she was also building a treasure trove for future generations. It wasn’t until the arrival of one of her grand-daughters, Justine, that this treasure would be brought back into the light.
Sharing a taste for beauty
Justine would spend most of her holidays in the Pays d’Auge in the fields. Invariably, she would end up in an abandoned farm where nature had taken over; plant life had invaded the courtyard and swept over three buildings - a longhouse, a press and a barn in ruins. This was a mysterious place, overlooking an ocean of apple trees, a place to contemplate. For Justine, nature embodied real, primal beauty.
As the years passed, she grew to understand and connect with her grandmother’s heritage: the orchards and the cider brandy, which had been ageing patiently for four decades. She learned the seasons of the apple, the alchemy of fermentation and the metamorphosis of the ageing process. This emotional connection to the Pays d’Auge took root and grew before blossoming in 2017: accompanied by her mother, her brother Stanley, and her sisters Bérengère and Garance, she decided to continue the work begun by Françoise Primat and restore the abandoned farm. This would eventually become the Distillerie des Ambres, where every step of the Calvados making process would take place, from the orchard to the finished liquor.