We produce three individual, single vineyard estate spirits. They range in age from 5 to 25 year aged in barrel. They have won numerous awards while up against the finest Brandy and Cognac in the world. The highly respected American Distilling Institute’s Annual Judging of Artisan American Spirits has awarded our brandy the gold medal every year since 2009. We can arrange a private tasting for true brandy lovers.
The Alambic Pot Still was built in Cognac, France in the early 1900’s. The French Colombard is heated to a boiling point. This “steam” is composed of the aromatic portion of the wine as well as alcohol. After two distillations we are able to capture the essence of the grapes, yielding an unmistakable flavor that is the hallmark of great Cognac.
Distillation takes place in traditionally shaped copper stills. Two distillations must be carried out; the resulting eau-de-vie is a colorless spirit of about 70% alcohol (the aging process afterwards makes the alcohol level drop to around 40%).
The wine used for the pot still is called Vin de Chaudière. The wine should be low in alcohol, around 9%. At the same time it should not be too intense in terms of aromas and taste. This is necessary for producing good eau-de-vie. The wine needs to be acid so the chemical reactions work better. The lower the alcohol the better the concentration of aromas. The wines dedicated to brandy production are basically quite natural, because winemakers do not add anything superficial to the process to make them sweeter, more balanced or to protect from bacteria. This is totally restricted in brandymaking, it’s simply not allowed. The grapes must be totally clean and pure, no additives whatsoever. It would create an aroma one would notice in the eau-de-vie, as it becomes so concentrated.
Alembic Charentais: The basic procedure of distilling is quite simple: heat a liquid and it starts evaporating. If the vapors then get in contact with a cold surface, they condensate.
Creating the eau-de-vie
Alcohol evaporates easily. If you heat wine, the vapors are quite concentrated with alcohol. The vapors that make their way through the pot still are more concentrated with alcohol than the liquid that remains in the boiler. The wines are injected to alembics, where the boiling of wine produces vapors. The vapors go into tubes, which pass through cold water – the tubes are cooled and the vapors inside as well. They then condensate into eau-de-vie: Far less in quantity and much more concentrated than the original wine. Cognac is always distilled twice. The wine in the “cucurbite” is heated and the vapors rise, pass though the swan’s nick and then condensate into the serpentine. The liquid, which comes out of the alembic is quite low in alcohol, about 30%. This is called “Brouillis”. This procedure is repeated twice. The Brouillis is distilled one more time, called “seconde chauffe” or “bonne chauffe”. During this step, the final eau-de-vie is produced.
The Alambic is not something one can just build. Exact rules are set and it is exactly described how the alembic is supposed to look – and how it’s supposed to work. And this has been a tradition for decades. First, an Alembic is made of copper, because heat spreads well in the metal. The “chapiteau” and the “chauffevin” look like huge balloons. The brick is built on stable ground for the huge tool and a goodisolation.
ADI’s 2016 Judging of Craft Spirits:
- Best of Class Brandy, Double Gold Medal & Best of Category – Aged Grape Brandy: Jepson Old Stock Brandy
- Gold Medal: Jepson Rare Brandy
- Gold Medal: Jepson Signature Reserve Brandy