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The first known Norman distillation was carried out by "Lord" de Gouberville in 1554.

The area called Calvados was created after the French Revolution, but "Eau de vie de cidre" was already called calvados in common usage. In the 19th century output increased with industrial distillation and the working class fashion for "Cafe-calva". During World War 1, cider brandy was made for the "soldier's morale".

The appellation controlee regulation officially gave calvados a protected name in 1942. After the war many cider-houses and distilleries were reconstructed, mainly in the Pays d'Auge. The calvados appellation system was revised in 1984 and 1996. Pommeau got its recognition in 1991; in 1997 an appellation for Domfrontais with 30% pears was created.