Distillation (n): the process of purifying a liquid by successive evaporation and condensation.
The beverage industry is one of the oldest users of distillation, dating back to the Middle Ages and the manufacture of brandy and other spirits from wine. Distillation of ethanol for consumption and for other uses was one of the earliest industries ever developed. The process of distillation separates chemicals by the difference in how easily they vaporize, based on the boiling points of water (212°F) and ethyl alcohol (173°F). The mixture being distilled must be heated between these temperatures in order to extract the desired distillate. Once heated, the alcohol compounds move to a gaseous state that, when cooled and condensed, form a liquid with considerably higher alcohol content than the original mixture.
Distillation occurs through the use of one of two distilling apparatus: a traditional (discontinuous) pot still and a continuous (Coffey) still. Processing mode refers to the way in which ingredients are introduced and products are withdrawn from the process. The traditional pot still is the simplest design of the two systems, consisting of little more than a large kettle. Time consuming and costly, traditional distillation requires the original mixture to be reloaded into the kettle following every production cycle. The continuous pot still was patented by Aeneas Coffey in the 1830s, and was created to eliminate the need for replenishing the original mixture after every distillation. The benefit of the continuous system includes more efficient rectification, greater fuel economy and improved cost effectiveness. Despite the apparent advantage of the continuous still, however, the simplicity of the traditional system gives the distiller more control over the final product, making it the system of choice for the world's finest producers of distilled spirits.
Nonino owns 42 traditional pot stills (many custom-made by Benito himself) which allow for the pure selection of the ingredients used to make the Grappas and ÙE for which the distillery is famous.