Charentais Copper Alembic Stills

Reminiscent of exotic and far away places the Charentais Alembic still is considered the most beautiful and graceful of all alembics. Unlike the majority of the other alembics, the charentais stills evolved in the Cognac region of France in the early XVI century when the acidy white Charente wines from this region were first distilled into bra...

Reminiscent of exotic and far away places the Charentais Alembic still is considered the most beautiful and graceful of all alembics. Unlike the majority of the other alembics, the charentais stills evolved in the Cognac region of France in the early XVI century when the acidy white Charente wines from this region were first distilled into brandy. At that time, ships from countries bordering the North and Baltic seas would come into the French port of La Rochelle for cargoes of salt and would take on some of the local wines too. Then, to save space in the ships and increase the value of a small cargo, the bulk of the wine was reduced by distillation using this still. Originally the idea was that by adding water, the liquor could be turned back into wine once it reached land again but customers soon decided they preferred Charente brandy, Cognac, to the rather acid wines it replaced. The region of Charente soon became well-know as a brandy producer par excellence.

The Charentais still is comprised of a characteristically onion shaped wine pre-heater. Wine is placed in the alembic pot and in the wine pre-heater. The wine in the pre-heater is heated by direct fire, as the wine in the alembic pot reaches boiling point, alcohol enriched steam or vapour is formed. The vapour begins to rise up to the alembic dome and out through the swan neck. The swan neck extends through the wine pre-heater, and the hot vapour passing through pre-heats the wine in the pre-heater en route to the condenser where the resultant distillate or "brouillis" (the result from the first distillation) is received. When the distillation of the wine in the alembic pot is complete, the wine in the pre-heater is transferred to the boiler via a connecting pipe, and this also is distilled in a semi-continuous process.

Once the two quantities have been distilled, this "brouillis" is then returned to the boiler for a second distillation process to produce "a bonne chauffe" – the final product is aged in oak casks where it acquires the distinctive colour and enhanced aroma resulting in a mellow and polished spirit.

Useful information: All of the charentais alembic still parts are welded together, some parts are soldered together using lead-free tin solder as per our soldered union construction. Thicker gauge copper sheeting is employed in the manufacture of these alembics. All connecting parts come equipped with brass couplings.

The Al-Ambiq® Charentais alembic still is elegantly crafted using hand-hammered copper and brass, an acrylic wine level indicator is attached to the pre-heater. Many of our customers have remarked on the beauty of the Charentais, stating "it's a dreadful pity to use such an elegant, well-crafted apparatus", and have placed it in a study, living room or wine-cellar on exhibit.

Basic information on different distilling processes and safety precautions that should be taken into account is available for consideration on this site.

The separate items that make up a still have been designed and manufactured for a perfect fit and to seal off all vapours. After years of usage some natural slack may occur between the copper pot and the swan neck hood. To seal off any escape of vapours a very simple and rudimentary sealing technique is employed.

These products are made with thicker copper sheetings and therefore we are only able to manufacture them with our Premium line.

Click to watch a 2D animation of Charentais Copper Alembic Stills

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Showing 1 - 7 of 7 items