Notes from Ansley: Early Germain-Robin Part 1

The Beginning 

In the summer of 1981, I picked up a hitchhiking Hubert Germain-Robin, whose family had produced cognac since 1781. He told a sad tale of industrialized production, and wanted to return to ancestral methods. He went back to Cognac to look for an old hand-operated still. In June, 1982, I dug the foundation for a small distilling shed up on my ranch. We had zero money: I dug the footings and leveled the site with a mattock and shovel, and poured a slab.


In August, Hubert arrived and helped me put up the shed.

Frame AJC

This is me cutting into a stud for a diagonal brace. I found that old metal-cased Craftsman skillsaw in the ranch shop in 1973. I used it for 20 years.

5.frame 2

Hubert is holding a center rafter (notice the notch) while I get some nails.

6.Frame 3

Nailing the rafter.

7. The distillery

We used old-fashioned, channel siding and a metal roof, and found old sliding barn doors at a junk-yard.


Here’s how it looked in November, 1982.

Notes from Ansley: Sauvignon Blanc


We’re close to an end of the second distillation of a batch of heavy-solids wine we bought from Fetzer. Sauvignon Blanc (a rarely-used but legal grape in Cognac) has an unusual “savage” (I say “feral”) overtone, especially on the palate. “Untamed” is another word. I was once shown an aged cognac from Sauvignon Blanc which had the same ferality. The photos show Joseph Corley checking to see how close we are to the end of the “seconds”, the chalk label on the tank that we make the fresh brandy into (later moved to barrels), and me smelling one of the best Sauvignon Blancs we’ve made: very clean, very aromatic, and pretty soft for fresh distillate at 71%. We like working with these grapes that are rarely or ever distilled: Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Semillon, Muscat. They lend unusual complexity to our blends. Some of today’s brandy will end up in the Old Havana.20150922_12535220150922_12541220150922_125435




Apple Brandy

Craft Spirits: Germain-Robin Heirloom Apple brandy