When I was 14, I travelled to Normandy to stay with a family and to learn French. My accommodation was a typically Norman farm. They didn't expect me to do anything, but from the first day I helped out: milking the cows, cleaning the stables, bringing in the animal feed. My host family was especially warm and friendly. We worked very hard with Jean, Monique and their three children (Denis, Benoît and Sophie), but with great pleasure too!
I used to look for eggs in the barn, I drove the tractor and… I also learned to enjoy drinking cider and calvados. The apples were crushed with a large press; their sweet juice flowed into a huge barrel. I was allowed to serve myself a glass of cider directly from the barrel as a thirst-quenching drink for lunch and dinner.
On Sundays, my hosts brought out the old Calvados. They aged it in a cool barn on the farm for at least 20 years. Those were magical times, and I can vividly recall its aroma and taste. Maybe also because, while writing these few lines, I couldn’t resist enjoying a genuine Calvados from that very farm.
I still recall Jean laughing as he watched me, at the tender age of 14, trying my first swig of Calvados. I was trying not to flinch, as I was surprised by the high alcohol content. Four years later, I spent my summer holidays there. I then returned many other times. The last occasion was in August 2020. Very sadly for me, Jean passed away at the end of that year, aged 87.
I shall never forget these moving moments, thanks especially to this powerful new taste and smell experience. Not to mention the truly genuine, simple and warm welcome of the Robillard family.
With this taste deeply embedded in my soul, I started to experiment with different flavours and aging of rum. Since then, I have won two Awards with rums of my own creation. I have dedicated them to the family!
Many thanks to Jean, Monique, Denis, Benoît and Sophie for these unforgettable moments from my youth.