An old traditional technique
Double distillation of grape marc and wine
The craft and history of distillation
Distilling is inspired by the generations that used the stills before us. Farmers have always recycled the fruits of their labor to the point of composting. The idea of waste is modern. For us, finding opportunities with local and natural ingredients means reviving almost extinct distillation methods and creating surprising spirit recipes.
Distilling is taking the time with the ingredients to extract the “spirit”, as the alchemists say. In our region, the garrigue, the Mediterranean, the mountains and the seasons offer us unique fruits and plants. Our art is to capture their aromatics to restore them in our bottles.
We work with pot stills (originals! – our oldest dates back to 1927). This ancestral method has the particularity of being done in two times: The first “run” allows to extract all the alcohol contained in the material and to obtain a “low wine” containing approximately 30% Vol. of alcohol. During the second “run, the degree of alcohol is concentrated and the alcohols are sorted out by separating the “head” on one side and the “tail” on the other, to keep only the “heart” free from the burning and toxic alcohols and the heavy and unpleasant fusels.
We filter only by gravity and without any additives. This way we preserve the aromatic expression of our spirits. A slight deposit or cloudiness is therefore normal. As we use live ingredients, slight variations appear between batches – to keep you surprised.
A day at L’Atelier du Bouilleur
Daily life at the distillery
Early in the morning, when the southern sun is still sleeping, it is time for us to start the stills. Here, we work mainly on wine; today, it’s Fred’s wine that’s going to be distilled, he’s an organic vintner in Laurens, a commune in the Faugères appellation.
The day before, we had poured the wine in the pot of the still. Early in the morning Martial keeps an eye on the first run also called stripping run, until midday, waiting for all the alcohol to be extracted. Matthieu then takes over, placing the resulting alcohol in a smaller alembic for the second run.
During the distillation process, Matthieu takes care to remove any alcohol that is unsuitable for drinking. He removes the heads, pampers the heart and removes unwanted distillation tails. At the end of the day, we had enough alcohol for Fred to make his spirit.
Theresa and Martial come back from foraging, our region is generous, they have bitter oranges and some varieties of Artemisia. The final alcohol is good and we decide to put the harvest in maceration so that Fred can make his Vermouth.
It was a fruit day following the biodynamic calendar, the alcohol will be blended with fermenting wine in the same tempo to make Fred’s Vermouth. The sun sets soon and we share a glass of friendship, sign of the end of a busy day.
Biodynamics in artisanal distillation
A great part of our partners work biodynamically, which prompted us to consider its application to spirits. We’re still experimenting with energizing the spirits and diluting water, and working following the biodynamic calendar.
This has already produced some beautiful aromatic results – the same pomace can present a very floral or very mineral taste depending on whether it is in flower or root day. An energized distillate is more stable and harmonious. We don’t know yet where it will lead, but it’s a nice experience and we enjoy experimenting.