A lot of white fumes are rising in the sky in cognac land right now and it’s not for the election of a new pope ! Only the visible sign that distillers are working hard in their distilleries. And don’t worry about these fumes, only composed of water vapor ! Moreover, some of distillers living next their distillery use this hot water to heat their home.
The regulated period of distillation
Beginning for the most important distilleries just after the harvest time, the period must obligatory end on march 31 st. In fact, day and night, distillers live according to the tempo of theirs stills and process called “double chauffe” or “repasse” in french, i.e two separate heatings, in a special “charentais” copper still.
Growers distillers or professional ones
The so named “professional distillers” (in french bouilleurs de profession) are experts in the distillation process. They purchase wines to growers who don’t distill, then distill and sell wine spirit, the famous eau-de-vie. The big ones are usually binded with major “Maisons” like Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin…
The grower-distillers are winegrowers ( in french “bouilleur de cru”) who distill their own wines, and then produce their own cognac or sell part of their eau-de-vie produced, to the”Maisons”.
A very particular moment
The distillation appeals to emotional senses of sight and smell : a sweety temperature near the stills, the slow flow of the eau-de-vie, and the subtle scents diffusing in the air. It’s look like a magic process of cognac elaboration, compared to alchimist without esoterism !
It requires skills and years of experience to be a good distiller.
For further information on distillation process
Since the beginning of cognac story, the distillation is still the same with this special double process of heating. The process is clearly detailed in this video from BNIC (coordination and decision-making body for the Cognac industry).