Emmanuel Camut, EC Distillery
The Camut family has been making calvados at the Domaine de Semainville, in the gateway to the Pays d’Auge, for seven generations. Lauded as one of the finest heritage spirit producers in the Skurnik portfolio, any admirer of French brandy is familiar with the Camut name.
Of the three brothers that currently run Calvados Adrien Camut, Emmanuel may be considered the most outspoken. Perhaps it is no wonder, then, that he has begun to cultivate his own path within the family’s distilling story.
About 15 years ago, Emmanuel took an interest—which rapidly became an obsession—in balsamic vinegar. During the long, cold winter nights in Normandy, Emmanuel would gently reduce apple must on the wood stove in his 19th-century house until it reached a rich sugar concentration. This reduction was placed into wood barrels of various origins, where it slowly fermented and aged. With each passing year, as more and more quantity evaporated, the vinegar became sweeter, more viscous, and extremely concentrated. After 12 years, Emmanuel finally began to sell this unctuous nectar while topping up the largest casks with additional reduced must, establishing a solera style of aging within this balsamic cave. This is perhaps the best vinegar France has ever produced, used in the kitchens of several Michelin three-star restaurants in Paris.
While continuing work at the calvados domaine, Emmanuel’s imagination then took him in another direction, leading him to cover another part of his property with additional cellars for barrel storage. From a small beer producer, also located in Normandy, he bought beer that he distilled in the Camut stills and aged in a wide range of barrels, including some that had previously held calvados or balsamic vinegar. After having visited Martinique, he also developed an interest in rum, and decided to pass molasses shipped from France’s Reunion Islands through the Camut stills. Builiding additional storage space became a necessity; the grassy areas of his property were shrinking, but the barrels continued to multiply.
While Emmanuel’s goal is to age his spirits at great length, a few of the smaller barrels have developed amazingly well in less than a decade. These fine spirits offer different aromas, textures, and flavors than others on the market for obvious reasons: the unique marriage between ingredient provenance and that of their distillation, an inherited talent for deft production on Camut’s firewood-heated stills, and Emmanuel’s passion and curiosity for new projects and willingness to push the accepted boundaries of the family’s producing limits (not unlike the spirit attributed to his grandfather, Adrien).
Never one to sit around, Emmanuel has nearly completed the construction—most of which he has done himself—of a new distillery on his property, known as EC Distillery. Housing two of the six, Adrien Camut-designed stills (having bought back two of the four originally sold to other properties, one of which no longer exists), production—including that of Ambrosia, Emmanuel’s take on the cherished Normand apéritif Pommeau de Normandie—will transition to this space in coming years.