The process of distillation is still the same since the cognac was born… in the 17th century !

What is double distillation ?

Cognac distillation is performed in a two-stage process, with a specific Charentais copper still, with its pot (or boiler), its swan’s necks ans its cooler and its condensing coil.
The white wine, harvested in the Controlled Appellation Area, is introduced in the pot and brought to the boiling point. Alcohol vapors condense to form a cloudy liquid called « brouillis »,with an alcohol volume of 28 % to 32 %. The « brouillis » is then returned to the boiler for a second distillation, called « bonne chauffe ». The total capacity of the still must not exceed 30 hl (with a tolerance of 5%) and the load volume is limited to 25 hl.

Distillation, distillerie, cognac, Tiffon-Braastad, brouillis, secondes, eau-de-vie
Destination Cognac – Emmanuelle Brothier

Heads, hearts and tails

The first liquid obtained, which is very rich in alcohol and known as the distillation head, is discarded during this second distillation. Known as the coupe, this operation gradually reduces the alcohol content. After the heads comes the heart, a clear, limpid eau-de-vie (the future cognac), followed by the seconds, collected when the alcoholometer indicates 60% volume, and at the end of distillation, the tails. The heart of the good toast is then placed in oak barrels to begin its ageing process. The heads and seconds are re-distilled with the wine or brouillis.

The winegrower and distiller profession

This double distillation process in the Charente region, known as “à feu nu”, lasts 24 hours and requires constant attention and great skill on the part of the distiller, to give the cognac its full personality. Completed by 31 March of the year following the harvest, distillation is carried out by the 4,000 winegrower-distillers in the region.

Destination Cognac

Winegrower-bouilleurs de cru distil their own production or have it distilled by professional distillers (just over 100) who buy the wines, distil them and sell the eaux-de-vie.

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