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Potstill & Barrels

The 25 hl potstill has been in use since 1976, after it replaced the 6 hl coal-burning potstill that forced the master-distiller to sleep in his distillery to keep the fire alive!

When we came back from school in the 90’s, we used to put our slippers on, take our schoolbag and run as fast as we could to the distillery through the cold aging cellars, where the temperature is about +5°C in winter. As we reached the distillery, we felt immediately warm thanks to the vapors coming out of the potstill. We used to sit at our father’s messy table, take our exercise books out and start our homework carefully watched by our father while he was also watching the distillation not to miss the ‘cut’

Pierre-Louis Giboin

Typical 'Charentais' cellars

The first construction in l’Hermitage was built back in 1795. It’s been an aging cellar at the ground floor and a hayloft at the 1st floor up to now. The other constructions including the Master’s house were built between 1795 and 1870. L’Hermitage has not changed since that date! It is the perfect style of the traditional farm in the ‘Charentes’ area.

Aging cellars are located against the North walls of the Master’s House. The seasonal temperatures amplitude thanks to this location, is very suitable for a long and smooth aging of Pineaux and Cognacs. From +5°C in winter up to +25°C in summer, temperatures enable the oxydation process of the eaux-de-vie. Cellars remain humid as they are covered with clay. Cognac is aging in ‘Charentes’ casks only, while we use ‘demi-muids’ of 600 liters for the Pineau. Cognac and Pineau have been aging by vintage for at least 2 years for V.S. cognac up to 25, 30 and even 50 years for X.O. and older categories.

The master blender is regularly and cautiously tasting the eaux-de-vie to make sure the aging process follows his expectations. One of his main important tasks is also to blend his different cognacs to make the ones, which will be released for sale afterwards. Eaux-de-vie are selected and blended together in a big barrel called ‘maître-coupe’, where the marriage operates during at least 1 year before the last reduction and bottling.

The aging process follows 3 steps

Extraction

The newly made eau-de-vie is poured into new casks, where it stays about 1 year. Tannins of the oak barrel will be extracted to be shared with the eau-de-vie.

Concentration

Then the eau-de-vie is pourred in 'roux' casks, which have contained several years of eaux-de-vie. This is a transition stage where the eau-de-vie starts digesting wood..

Oxydation

Eaux-de-vie, which are allowed to be named Cognacs, start a long micro-oxygenation process full of many exchanges with ambiant air and wood. The alcoholic strength by volume will start decreasing, the 'bouquet' will get more intense and we start identifying the 'rancio'.