The system for producing the Distilleria Gualco’s grappa is a “Piedmont bain-marie pot still”.
This is an exceptional type of batch distillation plant and , since there only a few such systems in Italy, it is visited by grappa enthusiasts from all over the world.
To give people a better understanding of this traditional method of distillation, on the 2nd Sunday of November Distilleria Gualco holds an open day, the Distilleria Aperta, in which all can lend a hand to the production of our prize-winning grappa, put questions to Alessandro and Giorgio, try local specialities and, of course, the family grappa.
Using a “bain-marie” or “water bath”, as most chefs will know, means that the pot of the grape pomace is not heated directly by fire but it’s surrounded by another pot of boiling water and this has the advantage of heating the grapes gently, preventing the grappa from taking on an unpleasant smoky or burnt taste and allows it to slowly evaporate. Thus retain the wine-like characteristics of the grape skins.
Our system is called “Piedmont pot still or Piedmont alembic” because this is a brevet of a local copper craftman. This is the only bain-marie grappa distillation plant in which the grape skins that the master distiller puts in the pot don’t need to be wet using additional water or marc but they get distilled as they come with their natural moisture.
In Distilleria Gualco’s case “the alembic” holds around 200 kilos of grape skins and in just an hour produces from 10 to 15 litres of grappa of 55/65 degrees.
The system, as a certificate that’s been hanging in the distillery for 100 years states, uses “Semigasogeni Autarchici” (Self-sufficient fuels) and the combustible used is the same grape-skins which have already been used to produce the grappa.