Photo of my beautiful small Alembic Charentais Still from Copper-Alembic, it works really great!
With a capacity of 0,7L this Alembic is a little bit too small for the real deal, but it is great for decorative or presentational purposes…. Will post more pictures soon!
This graceful charentais still is a replica of the 20L model that includes a brass valve between the wine preheater and the alembic pot for controlling the wine flow to the main copper distilling pot; making this the smallest example of a fully functional continuous liquid distillation unit. This alembic can be operated on its wood base for the distillation of wines in making excellent cognac brandies, after having aged in oak casks.
This charentais alembic still unit includes:
– copper pot
– swan neck lid with brass connector
– onion shaped pre-heater pot complete, brass tap and connector;
– brass valve between pre-heater and copper distilling unit;
– condensing recipient with a very tightly coiled tubing (condensing coil longer than in
other alembics); water inlet and outlet and an inverted funnel lid (decorative)
– rubber gaskets for brass connectors
– alcohol burner
-Stainless steel 25 mm (1″)Thermometer with copper thermowell – perfectly adapted to the size of the alembic with a 1% Accuracy margin- Celsius reading
Reminiscent of exotic and far away places the Charentais Alembic still is considered the most beautiful and graceful of all alembics. Unlike the majority of the other alembics, the charentais stills evolved in the Cognac region of France in the early XVI century when the acidy white Charente wines from this region were first distilled into brandy. At that time, ships from countries bordering the North and Baltic seas would come into the French port of La Rochelle for cargoes of salt and would take on some of the local wines too. Then, to save space in the ships and increase the value of a small cargo, the bulk of the wine was reduced by distillation using this still. Originally the idea was that by adding water, the liquor could be turned back into wine once it reached land again but customers soon decided they preferred Charente brandy, Cognac, to the rather acid wines it replaced. The region of Charente soon became well-know as a brandy producer par excellence.
The Charentais still is comprised of a characteristically onion shaped wine pre-heater. Wine is placed in the alembic pot and in the wine pre-heater. The wine in the pre-heater is heated by direct fire, as the wine in the alembic pot reaches boiling point, alcohol enriched steam or vapour is formed. The vapour begins to rise up to the alembic dome and out through the swan neck. The swan neck extends through the wine pre-heater, and the hot vapour passing through pre-heats the wine in the pre-heater en route to the condenser where the resultant distillate or “brouillis” (the result from the first distillation) is received. When the distillation of the wine in the alembic pot is complete, the wine in the pre-heater is transferred to the boiler via a connecting pipe, and this also is distilled in a semi-continuous process.
Once the two quantities have been distilled, this “brouillis” is then returned to the boiler for a second distillation process to produce “a bonne chauffe” – the final product is aged in oak casks where it acquires the distinctive colour and enhanced aroma resulting in a mellow and polished spirit.