Quarantine Bottle Kill #7: Drouin Pomme Prisonnière

I think the biggest thing people feel they have lost from this whole quarantine is time.

Time lost on their career. Time lost to spend with loved ones. Even the time to simply plan. The future looks so uncertain that it filters back into the present spreading a malaise over each individual moment. And while there are many people hopefully planning for the future, bookings for cruises this fall are up 600%, there is certainly a sense of mourning for the past few months. Of time lost.

The dirty secret is of course that we never had time. Entropy constantly moves us along time’s arrow with the past ever distant and the future never truly more fixed than it is at this moment. All we ever hold in our hands is the present moment with hope and memory creating the expanse.

That’s why physical reminders of the past resonate with us so hard. And for me why spirits and open bottles have so much poetry. I can watch time pass in liquid form behind glass. And when it’s at its end I can reflect on the beginning and everything in between.

Take this bottle of Christian Drouin Calvados Pomme Prisonnière. It’s the perfect example time in a bottle. And this goes beyond the standard “aged spirit” metaphor.

It starts with an apple tree in spring.

Pink and white flowers cover the trees feeling the spring fever and hoping to be among the lucky 5% that are fertilized and grow into full, ripe, plump apples. During this time is when the carefully trained eyes of the Drouin and Alleaume families place 10-20,000 glass carafes over these budding flowers. Over the next several months the apple grows inside of its prison until in the fall the are harvested, cleaned, and filled with calvados.

Timing here is key. Put the bottle on too early and the flower won’t become fertilized. Put it on too late and you risk the new fruit being too large for the neck of the bottle. And that’s even before the mishaps that can happen during the months of growth. Even with nearly 40 years of experience spread across three generations only about 40% of the bottles are successful, and that’s a marked increase from the 5% success rate from their first attempts.

After that time marches on and the calvados in the bottle evolves and melds with its prisoner. The liquid evolves over time and the apple changes with a life time spent maturing inside a bottle and preserved in Calvados.

All of these facts combine for a pretty remarkable encapsulation of how a spirit, and a bottle, can capture time. But metaphors are truly meaningful when they become personal. No matter how fascinating the process of its creation is, it is its connection to my personal growth that has the true meaning.

This bottle was purchased nearly two years ago on an impromptu vacation in France. My well documented love of apple brandy led us to spend a night in Normandie specifically in Trueville and Deauville, mirror cities with mirror casinos. We had been connected with Herve Pellerin at Christian Drouin who picked us up from the train station on a rainy afternoon, drove us to the distillery and left us in the hands of Guillaume, third-generation Drouin and the brand’s current head distiller. We spent hours talking about distillation, harvest, bottling, and of course Pomme Prisonniere. 

This bottle isn’t a list of facts. It’s an experience. An experience that lead to my first professional gig as a writer by crafting an article for The Daily Beast about this Calvados experience.

So, I will savor the last drops of this bottle while examining these moments of time trapped under memory, while trapped in my home by an unseen virus, and contemplate how to free this Pomme Prisonniere from its glass prison.

NOSE: Cinnamon, apple, clove,
PALETE: Apple, apricot, honey, baking spice, oak
FINISH: Medium, semi-sweet, and a touch floral

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