Yesterday we went to distill our pomace.
We didn’t distill in Bustos, our village. We had to go to a nearby village because all the “alambiques” (Stills) in here closed; there were six of them. They closed because their operation was regulated (taxes!) and they were built to distill large quantities of pomace. In the old times the wine production was huge, everyone in the country and abroad drank wine, so every family in Bairrada was a winemaker. 20 years ago the Portuguese wine consumption was 110 liters per capita and now it dropped to 42 liters per capita! I my opinion this was due to stricter alcohol and driving regulations and the low quality of the wine. So, because of this wine consumption decrease, the pomace available to distill became scarce.
But since the late eighties, a new generation of educated winemakers modernized traditional techniques in the vineyard and cellar and great wines emerged from Bairrada! But their production is much lower than in the old days.
The “alambique” (still) is copper made and the boiler is fueled with wood.
The boiler generates the steam that passes thru the pomace in the column.
The column (on the right) is filled with pomace and connected to the water chiller (on the left) to condensate the vapor to liquid.
The distilling goes on until an alcohol content set point is achieved. Here’s the final product:
“Bagaço” production is only allowed to personal consumption and can not be commercialized. Only the eau-de-vie obtained from wine distilling can be commercialized.