Distillation – The Birth of Cognac

Welcome to our video podcast: Cognac Distillation – Video Show #99.

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After fermentation, the white wine is distilled into ‘eau-de-vie.’ To become Cognac, this involves a double distillation, for which only the heart, or middle portion of the second distillation is retained. The heads, too high in alcohol, and the tails, lacking harmony, are carefully removed and distilled over again to perfection.

For its first distillation, the unfiltered wine is brought to boil in the copper pot. Since alcohol evaporates faster than water, alcoholic vapors can be collected in the onion dome shaped cowl and in the swan neck, which slows the rectification process of the flavors, before passing into the long serpentine condenser coil. Vapors condense to the contact of the cooler and turn into a liquid known as ‘brouilli,’ with an alcoholic content of 27 to 30% vol. This is distilled a second time in a process called the ‘bonne chauffe’. The distiller’s key task is then to choose the moment when to isolate the ‘heart’ of this second distillation, extracting the ‘head’ and the ‘tail’ in the process.

This distillation process is a delicate and slow one. It lasts for approximately twenty four hours and requires the constant care of the distiller. It usually begins in November and is conducted day and night for several months. The rule binds it to stop at the latest at the end of March. Distillation is a key factor that gives Cognac its distinctive character. Its secrets are handed over from generation to generation.

4 Responses to “Distillation – The Birth of Cognac”


  1. 1 MixnSip Mar 9th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    The limestone soil and temperate climate produce a sweet grape but the alchemy that takes place during the distillation process is of primary importance in producing a fine cognac.

  2. 2 Scott Goodwin Mar 9th, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Is anyone else have trouble downloading this show into iTunes? Won’t work for me.

  3. 3 GrapeRadio Bunch Mar 9th, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    It should work now. iTunes should have it off or feed in the next hour or so.

    Brian

  4. 4 Scott Goodwin Mar 9th, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Downloading as I type. Thank you!!

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GrapeRadio is a wine talk show. Show topics cover issues such as the enjoyment of wine, wine news and industry trends - the hallmark of the show is interviews with world class guest (winemakers, vineyards owners, wine retail / wholesale leaders, restaurateurs and sommeliers). The scope of the show is international so expect to hear many guests from around the world.

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