Photos – Charentais Copper Alembic Stills
The Charentais alembic typically used to make fine Cognac brandy is considered by some to be the most beautiful and graceful of all alembics with its gleaming beaten copper being reminiscent of exotic and far away places. It is comprised of several characteristically shaped pots with onion-shaped copper domes. Wine is placed in the alembic pot and in the onion shaped dome. As the wine in the pot reaches boiling point the alcoholic vapours collect inside the dome and escape via the swan neck pipe which extends through the onion shaped dome or wine pre-heater to the condensing recipient. The wine in the onion shaped dome is pre-heated by the copper swan neck pipe on route to the condenser. When the distillation of the wine in the boiler is complete, the wine in the pre-heater (onion-shaped dome) is transferred to the boiler via a connecting tube between the two, and then this is also distilled in what may be considered a semi continuous process. The resultant distillate or “brouillis” is then passed to the boiler for a final distillation. The final distillate or “ bonne chauffe” is then stored in oak casks to naturally pick up colour, flavour and also reduce its alcohol level making the spirit more mellow and polished.
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