Dear curious reader,
Another city, another distillery. This time we are in Paris and Nicolas Julhès opened the door of La Distillerie de Paris to spiritsfully. Let the visit begin!
Give me some background first!
The distillery in the heart of the 10th arrondissement of Paris, where the clandestine distillers were, as reported in Emile Zola's book, L'assommoir. But there was never a legal still in Paris! This still is the first legally established in the capital. It took them 5 years of legal struggles and battle before obtaining the permit.
This may be the reason why the custom-made Holstein still is named "Meme pas peur" (not even afraid). The still also carry another plate with a number: 751301.
75 for Paris,
13 for 2013, the year the approval was obtained,
01, for the first still in Paris.
Who is behind it?
Two brothers, Nicolas and Sebastien Julhès who also own a series of delicatessen and specialised shops all around the arrondissements since...some generations (bakeries, wine, cheese...)
Why opening such a place in Paris where room is limited?
First they live in Paris. And then there is Paris is a city of ingredients. It is an area where people meet, with enormous creative energy. Perfumery, chocolate, pastry, cooking... They use all possible techniques to shape different products.
And from their core job, they have ingredients too! They distilled fermented products such as wine, malt, maple syrup and honey they also sell, they have hives on the roof.
How come there were no distilleries in Paris?
Actually most of them have been banned at the beginning of the 20th century, on the one hand because they created a lot of fire, on the other hand because there was a lot of methanol intoxication, and first of all they did not pay taxes.
How does the distillery look like?
Small! This is a micro distillery. the still is in a 20 sq meter room. Barrels are held outside or in other room. The lab is hidden and possesses only one key. This is a highly efficient distillery though. Not made for tours but for experimenting. This alembic is so precise that they can use it as if you had a dozen different stills.
Look at the still below:
And what do they do in this micro distillery ?
A lot of gin
And a lot of experimentation.
The one you may seen one day is the "Maple". How to describe it properly? Let's say it is a brandy which Maple syrup as a base material. It means 2 years of trials and error before something been worth drinking. Intense flavor, no sugar coating.
The maceration always happen in the still, cold, warm, depending what effect is expected. The day of my visit, the room was filled with rose, cereal and rose. I will never know what what planned and in preparation that day but the perfume transported me.
And they experimented along the way with agave ("Agave") or with the grape varity you use for Cognac ("Ugni") but here again there is no point for them to create a Cognac. Not only it is not allowed but why repeating what others do beautifully since centuries? No, again the idea is play with the same ingredients and create a different spirit beyond the rules of appellation or the habits of tradition.
This is what makes their products interesting to me. It is exploring what an ingredient can give, what distillation can gives when playing more on one variable than another. In "Gino" for example they added quinquina. Then you just need to add sparkling water for you G&T while skiping the sugar.
check the website HERE
And look at this website (in French), great visit of the distillery told by Magali and good pictures !