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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Cognac Still

Hi;

Does anyone understand how Cognac is made?

I've been looking at Cognac stills, and have found very little that describes the operation. It looks like the distillate is fed through a smaller pot (not quite a thumper) that pre-heats the next batch of wine. The middle pot (not quite a thumper) is then drained into the boiler and distillation resumes. What is going on?


Reply:

Wow, you are interested in brandy? Welcome aboard!

You pretty much have it. The next batch is getting pre-heated by a 'chauffe-vin' while the current batch is being distilled. The flame-heated Cognac still, or alambic Charentaise, is the simplest and truest of the pot stills, and the distillate always requires a second distillation to obtain cask strength.

I have the country's most complete library of books on brandy production, so please write if you have a "burning" question that ought to be answered off-site. Please consider attending ADI's brandy seminar in April 2009.

All the very best,

Berle "Rusty" Figgins, Jr

Dynamic Alambic Artisan Distillers

Mattawa, Washington

[email protected]

Hi;

Does anyone understand how Cognac is made?

I've been looking at Cognac stills, and have found very little that describes the operation. It looks like the distillate is fed through a smaller pot (not quite a thumper) that pre-heats the next batch of wine. The middle pot (not quite a thumper) is then drained into the boiler and distillation resumes. What is going on?


Reply:

the goofy gizmo in the middle is both a pre-condenser and pre-heater for the next charge. it's an energy conservation device as much as anything. because if where it's positioned, it does not change the behavior of the still - it could be omitted. in other words, you don't need it to make brandy. you can't make cognac except in the cognac region of france.


Reply:Hi;

Does anyone understand how Cognac is made?

I've been looking at Cognac stills, and have found very little that describes the operation. It looks like the distillate is fed through a smaller pot (not quite a thumper) that pre-heats the next batch of wine. The middle pot (not quite a thumper) is then drained into the boiler and distillation resumes. What is going on?


Reply:

Oops,

On reading my post and the original question I realized there might be some confusion as to the nature of a thumper and a chauffe-vin. There is really a profound difference between these two pieces. The chauffe-vin is vessel that holds wine and has a closed tube running through the center connecting the col de cygne directly to the serpentin. Thus, there is no mass transfer to the chauffe de vin only heat transfer. The thumper is a vessel that is open to the vapors (and heaven forbid liquid) coming over the col de cygne. Some of this material recondenses to liquid and collects in the thumper. The vapor from the col de cygne then passes through this collected liquid before passing to the serpentin. Thus, the ‘thump’.


Reply:Oops,

On reading my post and the original question I realized there might be some confusion as to the nature of a thumper and a chauffe-vin. There is really a profound difference between these two pieces. The chauffe-vin is vessel that holds wine and has a closed tube running through the center connecting the col de cygne directly to the serpentin. Thus, there is no mass transfer to the chauffe de vin only heat transfer. The thumper is a vessel that is open to the vapors (and heaven forbid liquid) coming over the col de cygne. Some of this material recondenses to liquid and collects in the thumper. The vapor from the col de cygne then passes through this collected liquid before passing to the serpentin. Thus, the ‘thump’.


Reply:

<off topic aside>

Even the 'methode champenoise' isn't that generic. I couldn't get a label approved with it. I've seen 'methode traditionale' as an alternative popping up more and more. I ended up with 'fermented in this bottle' on my MC cider and perry. Emphasis on _this_.

</off topic aside>


Reply:Wow, you are interested in brandy? Welcome aboard!

You pretty much have it. The next batch is getting pre-heated by a 'chauffe-vin' while the current batch is being distilled. The flame-heated Cognac still, or alambic Charentaise, is the simplest and truest of the pot stills, and the distillate always requires a second distillation to obtain cask strength.

I have the country's most complete library of books on brandy production, so please write if you have a "burning" question that ought to be answered off-site. Please consider attending ADI's brandy seminar in April 2009.

All the very best,

Berle "Rusty" Figgins, Jr

Dynamic Alambic Artisan Distillers

Mattawa, Washington

[email protected]