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Meet the Producer: Sasha Crommar of Kystin

by Joan Kitterman October 25, 2018

Sasha Crommar of Kystin Ciders

Sasha Crommar creates Brittany-style ciders from apples that are grown in his orchards in Normandy. Sasha's family is originally from Scotland but came to France about 7 generations ago.  He grew up in the family textile business and then decided to take a chance at being an AOC trained cider-maker. The opportunity paid off and he became cider-maker and director of two AOC cider houses in Normandy.  After following the AOC traditions for several years, he realized he wanted to branch out and create ciders that were very different from what was allowed under the strict AOC regulations. He moved to Brittany and began his quest to create sublimely flavored ciders.  His first creation?  Kystin Cuvee XVII Chataigne, a sumptuous mixture of apples and organic chestnuts that are co-fermented in traditional French style cuvees.  This was followed by a pear and ginger co-fermented cider as well as a classic Brittany style brut cider.  Kystin means chestnut in Gaelic.

Note:  We wanted to give you Sasha's own words without too much modification. But, in cases where clarification was needed, we made a few translation edits!

What do you like most about producing cider, poire and Calvados?

I learned the cider trade on "the pile of apples" in 1996 when I was trained in the AOC Pays d'Auge method.  I like the rhythm of the harvest, the period of fermentation.  Now the promotion of the product is a new challenge for me.
I love all periods: the spring with its orchards in bloom; the summer and its reasonable heat in Brittany offers us the opportunity to refresh with poiré; the fall because it is, of course, the harvest; the winter because I adore end-of-year festivities and our chestnut cider (Cuvée XVII) fills our customers; and that moment in January we can go to Canada to "disconnect".

Why did you become a cider producer?

I grew up in the textiles industry. I discovered cider-making by chance because there was a job to be filled in a cider house that was starting up. I started in the courtyard receiving apples. Then I finally climbed all the ladders of responsibility to finish as director of 2 cider houses in Brittany.

Do you have a special batch of cider, poire or Calvados that you make just for yourself and your family?

I want to gradually set up a dedicated space for alcohol aging as Michel Couvreur does for whiskeys in France. The idea is to create very special and reserved vintages.

What do you want Americans to know about your cider, poire and Calvados?

Cider marked the Americans in 1944, with these memories of the D-Day. Cider has evolved now but it is a trendy, light, natural, fruity drink, and is now appreciated in gourmet restaurants. I sold cider yesterday to Americans from Wisconsin and California, of course I gave your details so that they can come back to you.

What do you say to someone trying French cider for the first time?

We have peculiarities, a finesse, and a beautiful mastery.  And, at Kystin they will have new and unique flavors.

Why should Americans like French cider?

Americans are not people who only drink Coca-Cola. They appreciate good bottles of red and white wines, champagnes, but also great ciders.

What food does your cider go with?

Our ciders go with almost all dishes. Obviously I think the vintage Cuvée XVII (the chestnut apple chataigne cider) will be absolutely amazing for Thanksgiving. Our classic, Opalyne cider is affordable to all because it is a true floral brut. And the Ginger Pear Kalysie is a happiness of freshness which will be superb as an aperitif but also on the marbled cheeses.

What is unique about the cider, apples and terroir of Brittany?  What makes Breton cider different from Normandy cider?

Although I produce in Brittany, my technique is marked by my past experience. In fact, previously as an AOC cider producer, I produced nearly 60 to 70% of AOP (AOC) cider. Brittany-style ciders (fouesnant type) use 50% of bitter apples which offers very marked notes of the terroir;  while Normandy cider seeks more balance.To sum up the Breton is the granite while the Norman is the bouquet of flowers.

What else would you like to share about Kystin?

It is a company that has time to flourish, the time to be born and grow.  We have the privilege to be the original and unique side instead of mass production. We would like to be in 20 years the "Cheval Blanc" or "Don Perignon" of Brittany.

Joan Kitterman
Joan Kitterman


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