We know of numerous unusual biographical paths that lead to the still via various detours, and thus the passion for distilling awakened by serendipity. Martial Berthaud’s, however, is probably one of the most exciting and unconventional among the biographies of distillers. A conscientious objector, he spent years trying to escape the grasp of the authorities in squats in Paris, Lyon and Geneva.
His run from military service brought him to the Cévennes region, in the southeastern French Massif Central. It was in this rural area that he became interested in distilling. He distilled the fruits of the arbutus unedo tree on homemade equipment. Source of knowledge and inspiration was Matthieu Frécon’s book “L’Alambic”, which was important for the French craft distilling scene. Soon the self-made apparatus was replaced by a real alambic still.
Years later, when Matthieu Frécon announced he was selling his distillery, Martial considered turning distilling into a profession. He offers Martial to take over his entire workshop in Autignac, where, as distiller in Faugères (Languedoc), he had accompanied the revival of “Fine Faugères”. Martial then founded with a friend L’Atelier du Bouilleur, a cooperative (SCOP) that continues to be the distillery of Fine for the winegrowers* of Facugères region. But in addition to this local brandy Martial also produces a range of other spirits. Whether pomace, distillates from wild-gathered herbs or berries. His reputation has grown and it is said that Martial makes “art in bottles”, he “distills as if he were making music”.