After establishing his winery in 1875, Joshua Chauvet brought this state-of-the-art still around the Horn from his native France in 1885, and soon began producing prize-winning brandies and fortified wines. It remained in continuous use by the Pagani family after they purchased the winery in 1913 through the first half of the 20th Century— even through Prohibition, it seems, by special permission— until the old winery finally closed down upon Charles Pagani’s death in 1954. When Charles Beardsley purchased the property in 1969 the Feds immediately showed up to drill holes in the old still, ensuring that it did not go back into use.
The remarkable improvement of M. Egrot’s distilling apparatus over previous designs was described at length in the November 19th, 1892 edition of Scientific American. We are told “The Egrot distilling apparatus consists of an alembic, of a wine heater, and of a condenser. The alembic [at the foot of the apparatus] is of small dimension as compared with the column which it serves to support. The distilling column, which is five parts, supports another column of smaller diameter [at the top], which contains a certain number of rectifying shelves.”
From here a tube called a “worm” would lead from the top to another called a “swan’s neck”, which emptied in turn into a collector where the evaporated and refined alcohol would then be cooled in a collector as a distillate known as brandy.