Facebook Twitter Instagram

Come to your senses Magazine

The savoir-faire 

The melody of the flames

A crucial step in the production of Armagnac is the distillation and the distiller is the guardian.  Listening and observing are indispensable for controlling the quality.  When the oaks in the forests lose their last leaves and the first smoke escapes from chimneys, another furnace is lit at the heart of the Armagnac producers’ estates.

This fire is that of the alambic and the distiller will keep it alive like a beating heart.  The armagnac alambic works continuously as opposed to the pot stills used for cognac.

The flame is the soul of the distillation.  Regulating the fire is essential in order that the rhythm is regular and the conditions favourable.  It is fundamental for the eau-de-vie’s character as the alcohol in the wine guides the volatility of the substances and their aromatic perception.

Just like a conductor, the distiller listens attentively to the notes that escape from the alambic.  The sounds of boiling, the purring of the boiler, the hissing of the plates are all scores that must play their harmonious melody together. 

The invisible work of the flame

The distiller doesn’t just listen.  He watches, he surveys, he touches, and he is always on the look out for any failure or breakdown that could upset his copper instrument.  The glow of the fire, the heating of the sides, the trickle of liquid as it leaves the serpentine are all signs that tell him what steps to take.  

With the help of his steel rod, he guides the fire by adjusting the oak and alder ?? (acacia ?)logs in order to master the heat. Regularly measuring the temperature at different strategic points (where the wine comes in, wine heater, boiler, exit) will be the fine-tuning in order to reach a balance of heat. 

Although gas is often used today to facilitate the task of achieving a constant heat, only the distiller can interpret the invisible work of the flame on the wine.