Rose Oil industry Period 2

This period was rather short, from 1902 to 1918, but it saw rapid developments in the rose processing. The already adopted technology and equipment were used for another 250 years. It was the period in which the gyulpans flourished. European trade in rose oil became a general practice and foreign companies came to know about the Rose Valley. Nobody could predict, however, the most profound changes that were still to come.

The beginning of these changes was marked in 1902 by the Frenchman Pierre Chier who constructed the first rose-distillery in Karlovo. This was already a distillery and not a gyulpan! The 2500-litre stills were in the form of pear.

In 1875 Hristo Hristov imported from France to Kazanlak a still, designed to be heated by steam. Unluckily, the experiments with this still were brought to an end by the unrest in 1876 and the 1877-1978 War of Liberation.

In the northeastern outskirts of Karlovo, Pierre Chier and Slavi Mitov assembled four pear-shaped, 2,500-litre steam stills with vertical metal coolers attached to each of them.

A Florentine flask was introduced for the first time as a distillate receiver. Thus was furnished the first rose distillery. A boiler with a high chimney produced steam. A special flower stand was constructed just opposite the shed housing the stills.

The modifications and innovations introduced in this period were as follows:

  • New large installations, the steam distilleries, were constructed.
  • A still of about 2000-litre capacity was designed. It was heated on a direct fire in a specially-designed hearth and used a special tubular cooler set vertically.
  • The new steam still as well as the fire still, necessitated the introduction of certain improvements in the traditional technology.
  • The Frenchman Charles Gamier of Cannes constructed the first installation for extraction of rose concrete in the village of Stoletovo.
  • The gyulpans went on the decline and at the end of the period they were nowhere used anymore.
  • The first Conference on Rose Industry was held in Plovdiv in 1906.
  • The rose plantations expanded, reaching a peak in 1917.

In 1903 the agronomist Konstantin Malkov planted essential oil crops in the Kazanlak fruit-tree nursery. He was the first to start scientific and research work into essential products.

Rose Industry in the Bulgarian Rose Valley

Construction of a large rose distillery was started in 1904 in the village of Kurnare. A French, Paris-based company carried out the project. The Frenchman Verlei was both designer and project leader. His work deserves admiration even today as the installation he designed gave the highest yield.

Hristo Hristov built a rose distillery with all necessary facilities in the village of Manolovo. A solid stone wall fenced it. A workshop for extraction of rose concrete with 6 extractors was built in the extreme southern part of the yard. It was the first extraction installation in the Kazanlak region.

Enyo H. Bonchev built a direct fire distillery in the village of Turnichane. This wonderful distillery can still be seen in the southern part of the village near the Toundzha River.

A major achievement in this period was the replacement of the 120-litre alembic by a unique large direct-fire distillery. Initially the head of its still was of the mushroom-like type, but later on a cylindrical head was adopted, providing better primary cooling and full drainage of the phlegm to the cooler. The ash-tray of the fire place is quite tall, allowing better air passage. The chimney base was made of stone and the part projecting over the shed roof was most often of sheet-iron. The actual cooler, inserted in the cylinders, was in itself a bunch of pipes, a serpentine, or a combination of pipes and a serpentine. At the end of the period under consideration, the cooler made of a bunch of pipes had imposed itself as most appropriate.

The modifications made in the traditional technology of the gyulpans were few, yet essential: the sherbet (the liquid that remains after the distillation remains are sifted and the boiled flowers are removed) was not used and the rate of distillation was decreased to about 4-5%.

The extraction of rose concrete was a completely new process. The first extraction installation, built by Charles Gamier, used rotary extractors. The extraction installation, which was constructed by the Frenchman Tournere Frere of Grasse in the village of Hristo Danovo, employed another type of extractor, the so-called stationary extractor.

The newly established relations between the rose producers and the owners of rose distilleries raised new issues. They were discussed at the First Conference on Rose Industry held in 1906. The following problems were identified as ones that needed settling over the years to come:

  • establishing governmental or public control over the oil purity
  • raising considerable funds for the needs- of the newly-formed cooperatives.

Konstantin Malkov was the first Bulgarian expert who moved the idea of cultivating other essential crops, like lavender, basil, salvia, etc., in parallel with the roses.

Rose Industry in the Bulgarian Rose Valley

Customers, the western perfumeries, wanted to buy rose oil of the same quality every year. To meet their requirements, the Bulgarian merchants strived to purchase rose oil from the same areas each time. They came to have higher requirements to the packing. Special labels, high-quality wrapping of the concumi and artistic decoration of the boxes for stacking the concumi were worked out. The wooden muskals were decorated with poker-work.

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