I remember first meeting Charles Neal about two years ago and at that time he told me he was almost finished with his Calvados book. Seeing that the project took him over a decade, I guess two years counts as "almost." What I now finally have in my hands is one of the most end-all, be-all books about any subject ever. While there are many whisk(e)y books in my collection, I really can't justify owning more than one book about Calvados - and that's not just because it's a small percentage of the spirits industry. I'll never need another book about Calvados because Charles has packed everything one has ever needed to know about that subject into this 768 page monster of a tome.
What do you want to know about Normandie? Perhaps a bit about the food and culture of the people? It's in here. Maybe a briefing on the D-Day invasion from WWII and its impact upon the region as a whole? It's in the book. Maps, charts, fun stories, distillation techniques, a break down on the different types of apple - everything you've ever even considered, that might be in some way related to Calvados, is in this book. After you wade through oceans of data, you then come to the producer biographies - over 200 different distillers, each visited by Charles himself, with photos, tasting notes, and histories. If you thought perhaps you weren't that interested in apple brandy, you will be after two minutes of browsing through these pages.
I'm personally a big fan of Calvados, but I tend to rely almost completely on Charles's selections - namely because he has all the best stuff. He's the only person who can rival Nicolas Palazzi for French brandy as well. Did I say we were going to Kentucky in January? Because I meant Mexico. Did I say we were going to Mexico? I may have meant France. If things work out schedule-wise we may have some interesting new selections by the summer. Calvados included.