Double or single distillation may be used to produce calvados:
Double distillation is carried out in a traditional alembic pot still, called either "l'alambic à repasse" or "charentais".
Single continuous distillation in a column still.
The age on the bottle refers to the youngest constituent of the blend. A blend is often composed of old and young calvados. Producers can also use the terms below to refer to the age.
"Fine", "Trois étoiles ***", "Trois pommes"—at least two years old.
"Vieux"—"Réserve"—at least three years old.
"V.O." "VO", "Vieille Réserve", "V.S.O.P." "VSOP"—at least four years old.
"Extra", "X.O." "XO", "Napoléon", "Hors d'Age" "Age Inconnu"—at least six years old. Often sold much older.
High quality calvados usually has parts which are much older than that mentioned. Calvados can be made from a single (generally, exceptionally good) year. When this happens, the label often carries that year.
Well-made calvados should naturally be reminiscent of apples and pears, balanced with flavours of ageing. The less aged calvados distinguishes itself with its fresh apple and pear aromas. The longer the calvados is aged, the more the taste resembles that of any other aged brandy. As calvados ages, it may become golden or darker brown with orange elements and red mahogany. The nose and palate are delicate with concentration of aged apples and dried apricots balanced with butterscotch, nut and chocolate aromas.
Calvados can be served as aperitif, blended in drinks, between meals, as a digestif, or with coffee.