Laurent Cazottes is a truly gifted man. Located in the Tarn department of France – a 3hr drive south east from Bordeaux and about 70km north east from Toulouse – his tiny distillery produces what might very well be the most magnificent expressions of fruits liquor/sweet-wine and eau-de-vie.
The adventure started in 1967 when Laurent’s father started his one-man traveling distiller operation: while his dad had been growing some fruit trees for the family’s consumption, he made a living going from one village to the other, distilling the fruits small growers and families would have harvested from their garden. In 1998 Laurent took over the family business and made some radical changes to the operation. He first decided that he would focus on distilling his own fruits to produce his own eau-de-vie and liquors. Then, to completely be in tune with his personal beliefs, Laurent made a radical move, away from what was done by the past generations. Indeed, he explains that for a (too) long time major chemical firms had a strong influence on growers such has his father which led to the use of too many chemicals too often. As a result, he set his mind to only grow fruits biodynamically.
Laurent uses his father’s 11 hl still to make his 4 eaux-de-vies (Prunelart, Mauzac rose, Pear Williams and Green-gage) as well as a custom made 3 chambers still. Some of this grape brandy is used in the making of his liquors.
Each eau-de-vie is made from organic fruits, harvested ripe then dried on mats to concentrate sugars/flavors. The dried fruits are then pealed one by one, cut in half, the pit/seeds/stalk are removed as to keep only the flesh of the ripe fruit. Only then are they crushed into a juice and fermented. On average the wine obtained is about 11% alc./vol. This wine is distilled in a pot still to 66% alc./vol. Laurent bottles each eau-de-vie at 45% alc./vol after reducing the proof slowly by adjunction of demineralized water.
Laurent Cazottes Goutte de Poire Williams Organic Eaux de Vie is distilled from Williams pears and bottled at 45% alc/vol. Only about 200 bottles are available for sale in the US annually.