Pot still heating in the land of Cognac or the time of traditional distillation

In the heart of the Charentes lies the largest concentration of distilleries in the world …

Every year, from October to next March, the fires are lit there

Meet a distiller in the gentle heat released by the still

is a rare moment, out of time

The season of distillation

From October until the end of March of the following year, more than two thousand distilleries take action to distill the white wines produced in September, at the time of the harvest.

From the smallest distillery, equipped with a still of a few hectoliters of capacity, to the largest, equipped with 42 stills of 25 hectoliters of capacity each, all go day and night for several months to light the fire and then keep it in the Charentes .

The largest concentration of distilleries in the world

At the heart of the vineyard, in Petite and Grande Champagne, is the largest concentration of distilleries in the world.

You have to walk there on a winter morning, when the weather is cold and dry, to see in each hamlet the plume of steam rising above the buildings, a sign that a distillery is hidden there.

There, day and night, the master distiller slowly works to “pass” the wines to obtain a brouilli which, in turn distilled, will give Cognac brandy.

The art of giving time to time, already …

Enter a traditional distillery, chat with the distiller in the gentle heat released by the still, smell the aromas that escape from it.

It all starts with loading the cucurbit … The pot of the still! As soon as it is filled, the temperature rise begins.

Once the fire settings are finished, the still is already giving time to time. Several hours pass, then slowly the precious liquid will appear.

When the time comes, find out how he cuts heads, hearts and seconds … Nothing bad here, but a consummate art of selecting distillates, from start to finish of the toasting cycle.

Some years, the weather is capricious and tests the expertise of the distiller. Too good weather, the wines hold less well, the fire under the pot has mood swings … Too cold weather and the fires must be pushed to ensure the right temperature under the pot.

Ultimate luxury for the visitor, for a while, nice and warm, the distiller, as long as he is invited, will tell us some anecdotes (and some secrets) of the vineyard and explain to us the best way to distill, his own.

This is how the Bonnes Chauffes en Charentes season is living.

​Pot still heating at the time of traditional distillation in the land of Cognac, the largest concentration of distilleries in the world