What still do Poli Distilleries use to make their Grappas?
Four different stills are in operation in the Poli Distilleries. All of them are of the discontinuous cycle type, but they differ in terms of when they were built and the heating technique used: flowing steam, traditional bain-marie and vacuum bain-marie.
Let me introduce you to the stills of the Poli Distillery.
- The Large Still, a flowing steam system composed of eight copper cauldrons linked in pairs to two small distillation columns
- The Small Still, a flowing steam system composed of four copper cauldrons linked in pairs to a small distillation column
- Athanor, a traditional Bain-Marie Still composed of two cauldrons, each one linked to a distillation column with adjustable plates
- Crysopea, a vacuum Bain-Marie Still composed of two cauldrons with an adjustable reflux distribution column without plates, the most innovative distillation plant in operation in Italy today.
Athanor and Crysopea were installed in 2001 and 2008, so they have not come of age yet, and have to be treated as we would a child: each day we have something to teach them, and also something to learn from them.
Crysopea in particular looks out on the world of distillation with the wide-eyed wonder of a little girl on her first visit to a fairground and wanting to have a go on every ride…
The “Large” and the “Small” still, on the other hand, have years of distillation campaigns behind them, so they must be approached with the respect reserved for veterans, still strong despite the many battles fought and the scars on their copper skin, always ready to turn out another batch, without hurry or delay, with that shrewd, patient smile only experience carves into the face.
The eight cauldrons that make up the Large Still were installed one after the other, at different times: the first three were installed by my great-grandfather GioBatta Poli, at the end of the 1920s; my grandfather then added a fourth, in 1959; finally, my father Toni ordered the last four from Tullio Zadra - a copper worker
from Salorno who then achieved fame building stills for a number of artisan distilleries – and installed them in 1964.
I installed the four cauldrons of the Small Still myself in 1983 as soon as I returned from service with the 3rd Cernaia Battalion of Pordenone, the heir of the great 8th battalion, if I make myself clear.
Each of the twelve cauldrons has its own separate personality: my grandfather’s, for example, is an individualist that will not hear of distilling at the same pace as the others.
We have to feed each one of them a different amount of steam, each has its own pace, and it is not always easy to coordinate them.
This is why they need a colonel able to ensure these veterans never step out of line and to spur them on to a new distillation campaign.
And each one of them, every year, with the fierce pride of an old soldier, responds: “At your orders!”.