The UK’s First & Only Grape-Marc Spirit Distillery

Devon Distillery has chosen a process of distilling that is widely regarded to produce the best quality possible. Our method concentrates on small batches, which allows for maximum control of the process, creating a final product that has heightened, refined and more defined flavours.

Dappa is made from the red grape skins that are a by-product of making red wine; these skins are known as pomace. During the red wine production, the skins are fermented with the juice to impart their flavours and colour. (This is different from the production of white, rosé, and sparkling wines, where the juice is pressed from the grapes and fermented without further contact with the skins).

When the fermented red grapes are pressed, alcohol soaks into the skins and remains there even after pressing. It is these skins that are collected and brought to the distillery for processing.

Fresh, Top-Quality British Grape Skins

Crucial to the quality of the finished product is the freshness and quality of the raw material used to make Dappa. Devon Distillery selects only the best red grape skins from the finest English vineyards. Extracting the best flavours requires the skins to be processed as soon as possible after they are pressed at the winery, within 72 hours.

Every vintage of our award-winning Dappa is made from only the finest UK grape-skins from vineyards including:

We hope to work with more UK vineyards in 2017 and if you would be interested in discussing this click here.

The Distillation Process

When the skins arrive at the distillery they are weighed, so that we have an accurate record of our raw material volumes. The aromas of the skins are also checked to ensure they are fresh and of a high enough standard.

The pomace is then lifted into one of two copper cauldrons; 300kg will fit into each cauldron we use. The pomace is loaded in layers to stop it compacting too much, as this would have a negative impact on the finished flavours and aromas.

Steam is then released and allowed to flow up through the pomace, collecting the alcohol that is present in the skins. This mixture of steam and alcohol vapour rises due to the heat in it, until it leaves the cauldron and flows into the copper pot still.

Once in the pot still, the aim is to reduce the water content from the water/alcohol vapour. Also, as the vapour mixture rises in the column it passes through copper filters that extract any impurities.

By the time the vapour reaches the top of the column it is around 96% alcohol. This vapour is cooled and the resulting condensed liquid passes into an observation chamber. In the observation chamber it is possible to monitor the concentration of alcohol being produced. Using this, we can make the ‘cuts’ to the product.

  1. The first cut is known as the ‘heads:’ this often has more volatile components in it that, while harmless, can add unpleasant characteristics to the finished product. This cut is quite small and is discarded as there is no further use for it.
  2. The second cut is known as the ‘heart:’ this is the best quality alcohol achieved during production. This is collected into a receiving tank.
  3. The last cut is the ‘tails:’ as the alcohol content drops during production, marginal flavours can also be collected. A proportion of the tails cut is saved and recycled through the still as the next batch of pomace is being processed.

Once all of the desired alcohol is collected, and allowed to rest, it can be blended, this (fortunately) involves a great deal of sampling! Once the Dappa blend is perfected and the alcohol concentration is brought from ‘still strength’ down to a safe 43%, it is bottled and ready to be enjoyed.

Unique flavour – Grappa Evolved!

Dappa has clean, crisp and grassy flavours, with hints of berries and earthy tones.  Our 2013 vintage, the earliest vintage available in our store, presents a flavour of complexity. The combination of Pinot Noir and Rondo grape skins and is complemented with small quantities of Dornfelder and Regent.

Unlike the more ‘industrial’ Grappa you might find in an Italian bar, this hand-made product of Devon is far removed – an artisan, boutique drink of subtle flavours and hidden depths.

Cosmo Caddy - Dappa Distiller Supreme

About Our Liquid Ancestor – ‘Grappa’

The drink on which our very own Dappa is based is called Grappa – a beverage of Italian origin. It is a form of pomace brandy, made from the skins, pulp and seeds of grapes used in wine making.

As with all wines and spirits, the final flavour of the product depends greatly on the quality of the grape-skins used and the distillation process. Our very own Dappa uses only the finest and freshest British grape-skins and, as the only licensed UK distiller, it’s flavour is globally unique.

The history of Grappa can be traced all the way back to the first century AD, but only really took off with the codification of techniques by the Jesuits in around 1600AD. The very same techniques were used until recently and are extremely similar to the distillation of traditional brandy.

Grappa distillation illustration