Pommeau is a traditionally French endeavor, specifically in the Normandy and Brittany regions. There, fresh apple cider is fermented and distilled, then aged to be granted a heavily governed by the AOC (and highly regarded) nomenclature of Calvados. A select amount of this apple brandy product becomes the alcoholic base and preservative for fresh (sweet) cider to be aged in barrels. This unique spirit, called Pommeau, lives in between the bold and higher proof Calvados and the sweet and tart cider it was born. Now this golden liquid mellowed in a barrel, and touched with wood flavors. The alcohol generally stays around 16-18 %, which saves the spirit from spoilage and off flavors but doesn’t overwhelm the sweet cider or blot out the fresh juice aromas.The result is closer to an aperitif, cordial or after-dinner wine. Generally sipped neat, chilled or even room temperature to allow for the full evolution on aromas and flavors.
The New England approach to Pommeau allows us to use our spent bourbon barrel as the vessel. We married together the same fresh apple cider that is grown and pressed right here in NH with the distillate of its ferment from the seasons. The two are then stored in 53 gallon oak barrels in our barrel house. We checked on the progress and after over a year of harmonizing it was bottled. The result is a vinous-like spirit, with the aroma of an orchard’s harvest and honey. Sweet and slightly warm on the nose, with a crisp tartness of the fruit. The taste that follows is peaked with brandy with a wine like mouthfeel and some nutty components from the barrel and its previous boubon occupant. Vanilla and caramel accompany flavors on the mid-palate. Warmth from the brandy alludes to pie. The lower proof allows for a more sessionable spirit, with little or no doctoring with mixology. Or, the fruity spirit could enliven a classic cocktail recipe: a welterweight Jack Rose (with lemon and grenadine) or a low-key Old Fashioned.
Tamworth Garden Pommeau is available now at Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile.