We picked up our barrels of fermented cider from Distillery Lane Cider Works on Thursday as planned. Ten barrels had achieved a level of about 6.5% alcohol -- our target number -- with another three barrels not quite there -- at 5%. We brought all 13 barrels back to Mount Vernon and filled one of our hogseahds with the immature cider in hopes that it might continue working. Even if it doesn't, the sight of the frothy liquid in our vintage 120-gallon oak hogshead makes a pretty picture and serves as a great demonstration piece for visitors while we distill this week.
We filled all five of our stills this morning and by 12:30 we were beginning to see the first appearance of the crystal clear spirit. As of 4:00 most of the stills have just about completed their run and we are getting ready to close down for the night. Tomorrow we go at it again, and by the end of the day we should have all 500 gallons of cider run through and stored temporarily in the low-wine kegs. On Wednesday we will run that all through for the second distillation, and we hope to have up to 50 gallons of eau de vie ready to stow away in our toasted oak barrels to age.
Anyone interested in observing the process is welcome to come on down on Tuesday or Wednesday.