The distillation secrets

Come discover our finest Cognac distillation secrets, a clever mix between history and traditions.

The distillation process in two stages

Distillation is made in two stages, with a “Charentais” still.
This still is made with a copper pot, heated over an open fire (in the pot itself) and surmounted by a capital, prolonged by a swan neck that turns into a serpentine and passes through a cooling basin called a “pipe”.

We use our two family stills from 1914 and 1968.

The Cognac distillation is made in two stages
• 1st stage : obtaining the first distillate called  « brouillis » that titrates 28 to 32 % volume.
2nd stage : The “brouillis” is put back in a boiler for a second distillation process (=”la repasse”) that we called « la bonne chauffe »

This distillate will be cut in 4 parts :

• The first liters of the distillate obtained, very rich in alcohol, are removed. We call them “the heads” (they titrate between 82 and 78% vol.).
The « theads » represent only 1 to 2% of the volume, the selection is made thanks to human presence, each liter is carefully smelled to make a choice.

• The alcohol content gradually decreases, flows the clear and limpid “heart” eau-de-vie which will become Cognac.

• Then come the seconds that will be partially preserved to give the characteristics of our Cognac.

• This delicate operation is called “the cut”, it is the delicate moment when the distiller keeps his attention near the still to select the best moment to stop the selection of the day.

• Then the tails mark the end of the distillate, devoid of aromas and with a low alcoholic strength.

“Heads” and “tails” will be re-distilled with the wine. The final result will be place in oak barrels, and will be able to start its ageing.


Distillation process
The successful completion of the distillation cycle, which lasts about 24 hours (12 hours for each cycle), requires a great deal of attention, constant monitoring and practice on the part of the distiller.

By intervening in the distillation techniques (proportion of fine lees, recycling of “seconds” in the wines or “brouillis”, temperature curves…) we will be able to give our Cognac eaux-de-vie elements of its personality for future years.

Why do we need to distill ?
Distillation allows the concentration of aromas through the extraction and selection of volatile products. Only volatile substances are found in the eau-de-vie.

These are the ones that make up the main elements of the bouquet. Alcohol (ethanol) is in a way the carrier that carries the volatile compounds.

Distillation also makes it possible to concentrate the alcohol.

This year, nearly 7 litres of wine will be needed to obtain one litre of Cognac eau-de-vie. This must not exceed 72.4% vol. at 20°C.

Distillation – Cognac Guillon Painturaud – Cognac
But the best is to visit us to talk about it, smell and taste it…but be careful, the 2017 harvest is small and the 2017 distillation will not last more than a month… Make an appointment for your guided tour quickly!

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