With a deep respect for the local architecture of Normandy, the farmhouse of the Distillerie des Ambres was lovingly restored by local artisans. The interior was, however, reworked to a more modern design, better suited to the needs of a 21 st century Calvados distillery. Sitting in an open meadow, dotted with apple trees, there are three separate buildings : the typically Norman longhouse, the distillery and the press. These lie at the heart of all Calvados production.
Here, the half-timbered walls alternate wood with ochre cob. Modern additions are built from sandstone or flint, and the roofs are covered with traditional flat earthenware tiles. And of course, every Norman courtyard has its garden close to hand. Here, flowers bring sparks of vivid colour to a patchwork of off-white, ochre and rust-brown - just like the colours of an apple.
From the organically farmed orchards at the Distillerie des Ambres and the organic apples sourced from within 15 km of the press to the waste solids and cidrasse* used to feed local livestock and fertilise the orchards : cider brandy has a particularly gentle impact on the environment, from start to finish. This is a true reflection of a healthy product, made according to age-old traditions.
* The liquid residue from the distillation process
« An apple seed in my hand, A brown drop, a tiny pip,
I’m holding the tree in my hand. »
Pierre Gamarra, Apple seed, 1970
Every Calvados is the result of a careful blend of several cider brandies, selected according to their characteristics and their age - although the very best years are often granted their own single-vintage bottling. The Distillerie des Ambres blends exclusively their own cider brandies, which are distilled on their own site.
The oldest, dating back to the Manoir des Ambres, were produced in the 1980s and offer the volume and power needed to produce the Calvados in line with the Distillerie des Ambres’ specific vision : an authentic product which releases the fruit’s inherent aromatic expression in all its glory, in addition to its vigour, refinement, generosity and intensity. Indeed, each brandy has its own distinct personality. While the weather conditions of the vintage provide the bedrock for a brandy’s character, it is patiently faceted and shaped over the years to express it in its best possible light.
While the apple may evoke original sin, it remains the fruit of beauty, pleasure and love attributed to Venus. The form is that of the globe, and the infinite sphere of the universe. Indeed, if you cut the apple across its « equator », it will reveal a five-pointed star containing five seeds.
For the Greeks and Romans, this image symbolised opposites coming together (the masculine number three plus the feminine number two), and more generally the divine number five; this is the number of the quintessence, the perfect substance created from the addition of the four elements: water, air, earth and fire.
With a simple cut, an unexpected perspective is revealed. Elemental in nature, it has now become the symbol of the Distillerie des Ambres. Is this not the perfect symbol for a Calvados distillery steeped in tradition, but with a bold new perspective.