Alembic Copper Still

Luk Shu-Choi & Luk Keung-Choi, Dimple Yuen & Ivan Chang

Dimple Yuen and Ivan Chang teamed up with traditional craftsmen Luk Shu Choi and Luk Keung Choi to refine a copper alembic still by adapting techniques from handcrafting herbal tea brass vessels. Dimple and Ivan uphold the respect for traditional copperware and distillation techniques while implementing the spirit of "Made in Hong Kong" to the entire making process, from the research and development to experimentation of the distillation formula.

The high thermal conductivity of copper plays a vital role in removing impurities during the distillation process, which explains why copperware has always been used for gin making. Although some modern stills use stainless steel for economic purposes, Dimple and Ivan have insisted on using copper and follow the more traditional spirits brewing process to produce premium spirits.

Collaboration with the two Luk masters began with the alembic still that Dimple and Ivan bought from Europe. In the process of creating their gin, Dimple and Ivan used a petite copper still made in Portugal to develop and test the formula. The still comes with a narrow lid and a wide base, in the shape of a gourd. However, this still lacked the most important component for distillation - the thermometer, which prompted the duo to find a solution in Hong Kong. 

What started as a simple request to install a thermometer on the still soon became an opportunity to exchange ideas, stories, and skills with the Luk brothers of Ping Kee Copperware. Dimple and Ivan were intrigued by the form and texture of traditional copper herbal tea vessels that Ping Kee had produced, which inspired them to refine the alembic still using traditional copper hammering techniques for herbal tea vessels.

The essence and meaning of craftsmanship lie in exploring with both hands and being flexible from experience. Through the partnership, the Luk brothers were able to bring the young distillers’ vision to life, propelling the art of copper craft forward by introducing new elements to a traditional piece, reinterpreting the traditional craft of herbal tea vessels that once represented the culture of Hong Kong.

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