Sagnac Armagnac Alambic Still




Sagnac is distilled in an imported, typical, traditional Armagnac alambic still. The copper pot which forms part of the traditional Armagnac still is known as an alambic and is derived from the Greek word, “ambix” which means a vase with a small opening which was part of the distillation equipment. The Arabs changed the word to “ambic” and called their distillation equipment “al ambic”. The Europeans changed it to “alambic” in the fifteenth century.


Armagnac is the oldest cask matured eau de vie with its origin in the Renaissance. The distillation of Armagnac dates back to 1411 where an inscription in the registry of the Notary of Toulouse refers to a “ayga ardentarius” or distiller. The inventory in 1489 of the estate of Bernard Dufour, Curate of Solomiac, in Latin refers to “….item plus un alambic de cuivre pour distiller…” – a copper potstill for distillation.


The alambic is heated with an open gas flame and distills the fresh Colombard and Ugni blanc wines to brandy in a single distillation. Impure, volatile heads and tails are constantly returned to the wine for re-distillation. The young and fiery translucent, white spirit at about 60% alcohol by volume is matured in multiple used, small French oak barrels for six years. The annual evaporation loss or so-called “Angels’ share” is periodically topped-up with pure water, which lowers the alcohol strength and simultaneously the brandy extracts colour and valuable aromatic compounds such as vanillin and cinnamic aldehyde from the toasted oak.


Sagnac is a completely natural brandy which is finally blended with pure water to bottling strength before filtration to the crystal clarity expected from such a refined, golden-amber eau de vie.


Author: Gerhard Olivier


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