Intresting article about Forgeron‘s process of distilling. Must read!
Distilling since 1965:
11 Hl copper still
25 Hl copper still
Heating with natural gas
Cooling down process with recycled rain water
The « Alambic Charentais » or copper still starts with the « marmite » (cooking pot) which is heated by a direct flame, with on top of it a “chapiteau” shaped either as an olive or an onion. The chapiteau, is followed by a « col de cygne » (swan neck), and goes towards a “serpentin” (pipe in the shape of a snake) which is immersed in a refrigerating tank called “condenseur”. The alcohol vapours transform as condensation inside the serpentin. There is also an optional part in the centre of the alambic. It is called « réchauffe-vin » and enables to pre-warm the wine for the following cycles and therefore make energy savings.
Distillation is made in two cycles or « chauffes » each lasting approximately 12h:
The first step is to bring the unfiltered wine to the boil so that the alcohol vapours travel along the chapiteau, the col de cygne and the serpentin. We eventually obtain a slightly blurred liquid called « brouillis ».
The second step is to distillate that brouillis: it is known as the « bonne chauffe » (the good heat). Only the « cœur de chauffe » from that second process in the alambic will result in a clear and transparent eau-de-vie.
The choices made all along the process for the heating temperature, the proportions of brouillis, wine, lees, will create the personality of the cognac.
We apply the Rémy Martin method:
Complete distillation of the wines and sediments
1st distillation: flowing temperature @ 13°C
2nd distillation: flowing temperature @ 18°C
We therefore obtain an eau-de-vie which is rounder, oilier and with a better ageing potential.