The art of transforming fruit into alcohol
The production of an eau de vie takes place in several stages.
The raw material used is composed solely of carefully selected fruit. The fruit is then stored in vats to start the fermentation process naturally (with the exception of raspberries, which are low in natural sugar and require maceration before distillation).
Fermentation of the fruit
Fermentation starts after two days, thanks to the natural yeasts in the fruit. After one to two weeks, the natural sugar in the fruit is transformed into alcohol. Under the close supervision of the distiller, the fermentation will be slowed down, or even stopped by sealing the vats, before proceeding with the distillation itself.
Maceration of the berries
Some fruits, poor in sugar such as raspberries and wild berries, need a little help to start their fermentation. Brandy is then added for a good 4 weeks, in proportions defined by legislation. During this period, a slight fermentation takes place before the distiller, according to his know-how, decides to start the distillation.
In autumn, distillation is carried out gently in small copper stills, such as the Charentais iron still, heated in a bain-marie. Distillation means separating the various components of a mixture. The separation is obtained by heating the mixture and evaporating the desired component, which, to simplify, is water and alcohol.