Coquerel: tasty calvados with a modern twist.

Pierre Martin Neuhaus, 3rd generation, has been trying his best over the last few years to dust off the image of calvados with modern packaging and fair prices.

It is with some delay that Monsieur Baco (finally!) posts the first focus on a calvados producer. If this article comes late, it is not because of our lack of interest, quite the contrary (remember our article about calvados?), but rather because of the difficulty of getting in touch with certain producers. Coquerel is not one of them. Pierre Martin Neuhaus, 3rd generation, and Alexandre Maret, in charge of sales, try to participate to most trade fairs and are keen to take Coquerel beyond the borders of Normandy and show that calvados is a modern spirit that can be appreciated with friends in a relaxed environment. 


Founded in 1937, the Coquerel family estate was bought in the 1970s by François Martin, who was working at Rothschild and was looking to take over a spirit company. Aiming at developing the business, he undertook, to renovate the cider house, enlarge the cellars and increase the barrel stocks. This enabled Calvados Coquerel to exceed one million bottles sold and to establish the reputation of the brand. In 1991, the brand was sold to United Distillers (now Diageo) that eventually did not pursue the development further. Jean-François Martin, who worked in the distillery, decided to buy the company to bring it back into the family fold. 

Head of the company since 2014, Pierre accelerated the modernisation of Coquerel as a brand by asking himself two questions: “who was still buying calvados with old labels?” and “how to integrate the brand’s history while reaching new consumers?”. The answer to these questions resulted in a diversification of the range with the successful Normindia gins plus a line of young calvados with various finished as well as a graphic redesign of the packaging.

Pierre Martin Neuhaus
Pierre Martin Neuhaus

The terroir

Located in Milly in the Manche (in the Calvados appellation area), Domaine du Coquerel has orchards planted with high-stemmed grapes which represent between 5 and 8% of its supply. The rest comes from partner farmers located within a 30 kilometer-radius. Between 3 and 5% of pears are used in the composition of the estate’s calvados, depending on the year. Pierre Martin Neuhaus explains that 90% of the partner producers are involved in an organic approach without being officially labelled. 


The estate owns 3 old copper column stills made by Gazagne, Orthès and Geindor, some of which date from before the distillery was created. The distillation is carried out over an open fire and the ABV of the new-make is around 71-72°. The distillation is carried out on the lees and the fermentations are natural without the addition of yeast. 

One of the 3 column stills of Calvados Coquerel
One of the three column stills


The estate has 9 cellars with varying levels of humidity. The barrels are mainly made of Limousin and Tronçais oak, with an increasing use of new wood. 

The new spirits first spend 3 to 6 months in 200 to 300 hectoliter-tuns before being transferred to barrels.

Calvados casks - Coquerel
Calvados casks

The spirits range

The range, mainly focused on calvados, also includes a collection of gins and a more confidential collection of cognac. None of the products are sweetened (colouring, sugar).

Signature blends

This collection includes a ‘blanche’ (officially referred to as ‘Eau-de-vie de cidre’) and the traditional VS, VSOP, XO.

The Signature Blends range.
The Signature Blends range.

Grand Calvados

This collection includes both blends and Single Casks of old calvados, sometimes vintage.

The Grand Calvados range.
The Grand Calvados range.

Normindia Gin

A contraction of Normandie and India, this collection of 3 gins (all of which were entirely made on site) was conceived by Pierre as a bridge between the Normandy terroir and the richness of Indian spices. The collection includes:

  • a classic gin (based on 15 botanical ingredients including apple, orange, cinnamon, coriander, juniper, clove, ginger, lily…)
  • a barrel-aged gin (minimum 6 months in bourbon barrels that have contained calvados, in calvados barrels and in new oak barrels)
  • an organic gin with an emphasis on citrus. 


This collection includes a pommeau and two liqueurs (blackcurrant and apple).  

The Cask Finish Collection

This collection includes 4 calvados matured in ex-rum, ex- tawny port, ex-bourbon or ex-pommeau. Coquerel was the first house to finish calvados in bourbon casks

The Cask Finish range
The Cask Finish range

Cognac François de Martignac

Domaine du Coquerel is the only calvados house that is allowed to age cognac in its cellars thanks to an old exemption from the BNIC (national bureau of Cognac). Cognac François de Martignac dates back to the 1960s when François Martin had started ageing and bottling cognac. The three expressions (VS, VSOP, XO) that make the collection are made from ugni blanc from the different terroirs of the Cognac appellation. 


Coquerel is the 3rd largest producer in the Calvados appellation. 70% of the production is exported, but France remains the largest market, ahead of the USA, Europe, Japan and Russia.

Tasting notes

The samples (bottled on 01/03/2023) were kindly provided by the producer for free. They were each tasted in the same tulip glasses over a period of 30 minutes to 1 hour. The list of ingredients in the gin was consulted after tasting. All products can be purchase on Coquerel’s website.

Coquerel – Signature Blend Very Special (VS), 40° – 23€ (70cl)

Coquerel Signature Blends - VS

Colour: straw.

Nose: opens with notes of fresh golden apple and farm cider. The second ground is marked by notes of butter, fennel seeds, verbena, and warm bread. Hints of nutmeg and a touch of cocoa complete the background. 

Palate: the attack is soft. The mid-palate is round, marked by notes of cider, caraway, liquorice and bitter cocoa. The finish is rather fresh, salivating and of medium length. 

Coquerel, The Cask Finish Collection Bourbon, 4 years (plus 14 months in bourbon casks), 41° – 39€ (70cl)

Colour: golden.

Nose: opens with butter and coconut notes characteristic of American oak. The second ground is marked by notes of star anise and chervil. Stewed apple is gently appearing in the background, along with a touch of spice (vanilla, cinnamon) and a hint of flambéed banana. 

Palate: the attack is rather soft. The mid-palate is mellow and more concentrated with caramelised apple. The finish is salivating and of medium-long length with notes of liquorice and cloves. 

Coquerel, The Cask Finish Collection Tawny Port, 5 years old (plus 9 months in tawny port casks), 40.7° – 48€ (70cl)

Coquerel Cask Finish Tawny Port

Colour: golden with amber highlights.

Nose: opens with notes of baked apple, plum and walnut. The second ground is marked by notes of blackberry jam, spices (cinnamon, cloves) and a hint of mulled wine, while an empyreumatic register (tar, tobacco) structures the background. 

Palate: the attack is soft. The mid-palate is marked by notes of baked apple sprinkled with spices (star anise, cloves, cinnamon), plum and dark chocolate. The finish is of medium length with notes of cocoa and long Java pepper complemented by a touch of liquorice. A slight bitterness supports the finish. 

Coquerel, The Cask Finish Collection Rum West Indies, 5 years (plus 6 months in rum casks), 41° – 54€ (70cl)

Coquerel Cask Finish Rum

Colour: golden. 

Nose: a little more discreet and fresher too. Opens with some petroleum notes. The second ground is marked by notes of just-picked red apples, apples flambéed in rum, and white flowers. Discreet notes of tarragon and orange zest in the background. 

Palate: the attack is soft. The mid-palate is also quite round with notes of mash apple with vanilla, caramelised puff pastry, sweet spices (tonka bean, cinnamon, vanilla) and a hint of bergamot. The finish is medium-long, with notes of citrus zest, orange blossom and melilot. 

Coquerel, Grand Calvados 15 years old, 42° – 64€ (70cl)

Coquerel Grand Calvados 15 years old

Colour: amber

Nose: opens with notes of roasted apple, blackberry, liquorice and forest scents. The secondground is marked by notes of spices (cinnamon, curry powder, allspice, nutmeg) and orange zest. Notes of waxed wood, cola and a touch of Dutch caraway complete the background. 

Palate: the attack is moderate. The mid-palate is rather dry and woody, with notes of camphor, white pepper, liquorice, cocoa and date. The finish is long and warm with notes of white pepper and bergamot peel and bitter cocoa. 

Coquerel, Normindia Gin, 41,4° – 31€ (70cl)

Normindia Gin

Colour: clear

Nose: opens with fresh notes of cut grass, chlorophyll, and juniper. The second ground is marked by notes of Granny Smith apple, flowers (geranium), coriander seeds and fennel seeds. Notes of grapefruit, orange blossom and elderberry and a touch of ginger complete the background. 

Palate: the attack is soft and suave. The mid-palate is marked by notes of fennel seeds and juniper berries as well as a touch of lychee. The finish is of medium length with fennel seeds and candied ginger. 


The VS is logically quite simple but has a dynamic palate. The three cask finishes take the calvados in different directions: the bourbon cask maturation cuts back on the finesse to bring a maximum of tastiness, the tawny port cask maturation dilutes the apple a little but adds a nice complexity, while the rum cask maturation presents a profile that is less readable at first but puts the apple back in the center of the game with finesse. The 15-year-old Grand Calvados has a seductive maturity. Finally, the gin has a lot of freshness. As always, we would appreciate slightly higher ABV. 

In a nutshell

Founded in 1937, Domaine du Coquerel is located in Milly (not far from Mont Saint-Michel) in the Calvados appellation area. Today at the head of the estate, Pierre Martin Neuhaus, third generation, has modernised the brand by dusting off the labels and enriching the range with gins and cask finishing, bringing Calvados into dialogue with other cultures. In the glass, the spirits are tasty, and their fair prices and accessibility make them ideal partners for a relaxed tasting with friends. A successful mission for Coquerel, which has succeeded in bringing calvados into the mainstream, making Calvados modern again!

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