Category Archives: Producers
A Masterpiece Of Plum Brandy: Kovilj Slivovitz 3 Years Aged
Badel Antique Pelinkovac
For all of you who are not familiar with the type of brandy named “pelinkovac” a short introduction. It’s a bitter brandy made out of healing herbs with a dark amber color and a strong taste. If you are a fan of Jaggermmaister, trying pelinkovac should be on top of your list, because it’s way better.
Badel is one of the pioneers of pelinkovac making on the Balkans, and still one of the leaders in its production. Antique series of this drink is quite rare and made by the original recipe of its inventor Franjo Pokorny. It’s made of 20 different herbs and packed in a vintage bottle with a worn label.
This pelinkovac is serious in so many ways it’s almost impossible to describe it. The design of the package is stunning for sure, but it’s texture, smell and taste are pure, like heaven.
Each Antique spends at least seven years inside of a barrel. All until it soaks the darkness of its insides. The color of this pelinkovac is almost black but still see-through. Once the cork is off intoxicant aroma comes out. The smell of herbs is so hard it will enchant you instantly. It reminds a bit of some old-school medicine, or elixir actually.
Once your nose gets used to the smell your pallet will be confused. It runs so smooth to your stomach, leaving so many different tastes behind. This is why you should drink it slowly, so you can sense a note of every herb that makes its essence.
In the end, your stomach will appreciate it, since pelinkovac is also a stomach cure. It’s highly recommended with digestion issues, but one shot a day won’t hurt maintenance of your stomach flora.
Even though this version of pelinkovac is very limited it’s possible to buy this brandy in the UK. It takes some effort, but it’s possible. Treat yourself to a high-quality drink with a tradition and a story. Antique is the salve for senses, body, and spirit altogether.
Kleka BB Bajina Basta
It’s incredible how many people forget how powerful they really are. I guess that’s why many always look for any sort of authority, to tell them what to do, because they’re unsure of what their next move should be. The proper move, I mean. As if nobody dares to make a mistake, to take a risk.
It might be because TV and newspapers taught us that everyone will always hear about the mistakes, rather than the good things we do. Let’s change it, shall we? Sit back, and relax, and enjoy some nice story.
Once upon a time, there was the worker cooperative in Bajina Basta, which started the production of a very special brandy
back in 1955. BB Klekovaca was the name of a brandy that was made of juniper that grows on Tara, the nearby mountain. The brandy soon became popular and spread around. It lasted for a while, before the privatization in 2006. During the process, it was decided to separate one section, the brandy production, from the rest of the worker cooperative. And, it was a good move, because there were five hard working men, who decided to save the production of the famous brandy. They paid the rent for production area and equipment, and worked for several months without any profit (the production takes time, because brandy needs to remain in barrels for at least a year).
Workers fought for the factory, and they won.
Did you know?
The oldest Klekovaca that still has its place in the fabric is the one that was made in 1968. Next to it, there is a glass balloon that contains 50 liters of Klekovaca from 1972. It’s one of the favorite attractions for all who visit the factory.
The heroes of our story knew that their move might be a little too risky, considering that it required a lot of investment, during the times in which such steps weren’t recommended, considering the local economy. But, since they knew what they are fighting for, they knew it’s worth it. They claim how they don’t like the idea of ordering a drink in a tavern, without knowing how the drink was made. Their slogan explains it all:”With knowledge in tavern.”
They also knew that what was once very popular sure can be easily sold (okay, they couldn’t “know” this; it’s more as if they had a reason to have faith). During the “golden years” or the cooperative, over 250000 liters were produced every year.
There are many different ways to express bravery, and one of my favorite is stepping into the unknown. I really like
when people enter the caves no one has ever entered before, or dive in the underground lakes, or change their current profession for another, the one they dreamed of, but never had a chance to actually try it.
That’s why I admire the man who stands behind AS Group, Goran Stosovic, who took several steps many other people wouldn’t dare. First of all, from a small village called Igros, he dared to go to Chicago, where he successfully founded the construction company. Most of people who work abroad never return home, and here is another incredible step he took: many years later, he returns home, so that he can invest in the winemaking. In 2004, he founded AS Group, a company which produces brandy. Now, when people start their agricultural work of any kind, they usually look how to find their place in the local market, among people they know better… Of course, since he already lived in America, he had some idea of how American market is functioning, but still, his next step, to export his products to America was quite impressive!
His example proved that:”America isn’t a boogeyman,” as he likes to say.
Did you know?
While the company is called AS Group, the actual name for brandies is Imperian. So, if you’re searching for their alcoholic beverages, you need to search for Imperian Plum, Imperian Pear, Imperian Raspberry, Imperian Quince, Imperian Loza, Imperian Slivovitz and Imperian Klekovaca. Each beverage has a luxurious package, with an interesting slogan that says:”From Serbia With Love.”
Must say, the slogan reminds me of a Bond movie, “From Russia with love,” and I’m not sure if it’s
something like stealing the idea, or is it simply based on the love Mr Stosovic feels toward his motherland, to which he returned when he realized he can help her anyhow.Of course, we should recall, that stated how he really loves the process of creation of the brandy, all the way from the beginning, which means the collection of the fruit. Indeed, all fruit is gathered in an area close to his village, where the air is clear, as well as the earth and water.
Ecological factor is very important when it comes to production of the quality brandy. And, while we all hope that the area with such clean fruit won’t be disturbed, we also need to hope that there will be enough people to work on plantages, and in a distillery, so that we can never run of this liquid gold.
Rubin- A Common Name For Cognac
The very Vinjak, one of the most popular drinks in Serbia, and the main name linked to Rubin, entered the French market. Andre Steiner, the owner of the Distillery de La Tour, stated that Vinjak deserves a place among top 5 best brandies on the planet.
There are many lessons we all learn while we are young, but, one extremely important lesson we learn when it’s already too late. Of course, I’m talking about not-mixing-the-different-types-of-alcohol! Thank God, I learned that lesson by watching my friends, and not by experiencing the agony on my own. Sure, I was sorry to see them suffer, but, they were already warned by some other people, and they didn’t listen.
It happened that one of the drinks those poor souls had, was Vinjak produced by Rubin. And, while many agreed that it’s their favorite drink, it turned out that it’s so not a good idea to drink wine, vodka, or beer alongside with it. Back then I thought:”Wow, this thing requires loyalty!” But, now I know it’s the same with all alcoholic drinks.
Some guys said that it has nothing to do with the mixing, but that the product of Rubin is simply twisted, but I have to disagree on that. After all, Rubin worked for 60 years, and vineyards nearby Krusevac, where it’s built, are well-known by its quality. There were years, during the sanctions, when everything was falling down, as well as the quality of Rubin’s drinks, however, those times are behind us all, and Rubin keeps winning the prizes, and it’s welcomed on new markets.
Did you know?
The very Vinjak, one of the most popular drinks in Serbia, and the main name linked to Rubin, entered the French market. Andre Steiner, the owner of the Distillery de La Tour, stated that Vinjak deserves a place among top 5 best brandies on the planet. He stated that Vinjak satisfies very high standards, but that it needs better distributors and marketing campaign.
Also, even though the local people are used to the old package of Vinjak, he stated that Asian market requires fancy package, rather than traditional, simple one. He stated that American market requires a good background story of the product, and that European market requires an acceptable price. Two of the three requirements were already there, so all Rubin had to do is to give their product a new, fancier suit. And, they did quite well. As far as I can say it looks simple and luxurious, classic and traditional.
These were good news, not just for Rubin, but for all the people who enjoy Vinjak, and who always claimed that it’s the best brandy in the world. Of course, when you support a local product, you might not be able to judge objectively. Finally, we will hear what the entire world has to say.
Vino Zupa, A Cellar and A Distillery
There are a few companies who managed to rebuild themselves after their transition from government to the private sector. And, I’m so glad that Vino Zupa is one of them. The company that produces not just wine, as it’s stated in the name (vino=wine), but also many other alcoholic beverages, and tasty juices.
Its incredible journey starts in 1956, when nine worker cooperatives joined their forces in Zupa, after WWII. In the entire country, it was the period of hard work, and getting everything back on its feet. It is very funny that the section for fruit juices started on the first of April, 1962, which was a pretty serious step for the day that is considered for a day of jokes.
Of course, the crisis in 1990, inflicted Vino Zupa as well as any other company, and unfortunately, the company wasn’t able to rebuild itself on its own, so it ended up in the hands of the man who was ready to bring back the good, old days of the company. In 2002, the new chapter of the story was opened, like the rainbow after the rain.
Year after year, the company grows bigger, presenting new products, hiring new people, improving the quality, entering the new markets.
Did you know?
Production of the wine was popular in Zupa, long before the company was formed. There is a manifestation, called “Zupska berba,” meaning “grape harvest in Zupa,” and recent everyone’s favorite part of the manifestation included free wine tasting. It went even further, with the wine fountain where people could grab as much as they wanted, or as much as they could handle.
Personally, I never encourage the second option, but some people often end up with that one. And, it’s not very hard to end up with it, considering the old saying of the vineyard workers: “The best wine is the one that is cold, there is plenty of it, and it’s free.” This definition for sure is very rough, but the people who had a lot of good time, seem to be OK with it.
However, even that one wasn’t the greatest alcoholic attraction this area had to offer. The greatest wine attraction was, and still is, the giant cistern, whose capacity of 5.600.000 liters contains the best wine there is. Of course, there is also the Museum of wineries and vineyards, but it’s only for those nostalgic or curious people, who wish to look back, at the past.
Simex- Young But Well Known Brandy Distillery
Simex from Subotica is one of young distilleries, and as such, has no long history to talk about.
However, the quality of their product is well-known, and therefore, Simex is one of the most frequent names in the fancy restaurants in Serbia. It still hasn’t found its way to the wide open world, but, on the local level, the company proved itself. At Agronomic fair in Novi Sad, it received both gold and silver medal for two different types of rakia. Besides the recognition regarding the quality of the drinks, it also received recognition for the design of the packages.
However, even though there are many good results of their work, there is something that causes the trouble and nightmares to all the people working in Simex. For some reason, groups of forgers decided to create and sell fake packages of this company. They would produce it in an uncontrolled environment, and sell on the local green market. The loss of the company was not only based on the price of the drinks they didn’t really sell, but also based on all of the bottles people refused to buy in the future, fearing for their health. And all those losses were enormous.
On the other hand, there are sources who claim that the entire story regarding the forgery is nothing but a trick to gain the media attention. Well, there is no such thing as “the bad marketing,” right? But there is a huge difference between a product and a pop star. Or, at least, I hope so.
Did you know?
Simex Slivovitz has the name Brka, which means “A man with a mustache.” And, if you take a look at the gentleman on the package, he indeed has a mustache, following the fashion of ancestors. Some said that it’s a younger version of the man who can be seen on the old packages of Jagodinsko Beer, and as such, a copy. It’s quite incredible how people can find a way to argue about just anything.
Not so long ago it was discussed in the Chamber of Commerce, how the companies should act toward the design options. Besides the all the trouble regarding the copy/paste moments, they also thought how the package needs to show from which part of the Serbia it came. The next problem that came out was the fact that every distillery gets their plums from everywhere where there is a healthy fruit.
NAVIP Lost Centuries
NAVIP distillery was a great example of the fantastic work provided by the hands of the working class. People in this area showed interest in the production of the wine long time ago, in 1848. Alongside with the vineyards, worker cooperatives managed to grow.
NAVIP was closely connected with the first such cooperative in village Crkvenac, in 1897, which was formed by Dimitrije Katic. It makes sense, considering that it’s the oldest distillery in Serbia. Not long after, in 1898, vineyard workers in Jagodina, gathered to build their own cooperative. Soon to follow were the workers in Vencac, in 1903.
After the WWII, another, a lot greater, worker cooperative was formed. NAVIP gathered the facilities from the Petrovaradin all the way through the Vranje. And, as such, in the hands of the workers who actually worked their job fairly and respectfully, the production reached high levels of quality, which was proved with all the prizes and accomplishments NAVIP has received.
Recently, there has been a controversy that could ruin the golden name of the distillery. But, it’s good to know that many hard working people keep working on recovering from the damage.
Did you know?
Speaking of recovery, here is some good news: distillery in Crkvenac exported 10.000 bottles of NAVIP Slivovitz to America, and right now they are preparing the exportation to Canada and Switzerland. The capacity of Crkvenac is about 1.5 million liters, which makes it quite unique in this part of the Balkan.
Until 1970 distillery produced wine, but after this peculiar year, it decided to focus on the production of the rakia. There are several different types of slivovitz there, and the one named Serbian Slivovitz is used for export only, while some others, like Bardaklija and Lozovaca, are meant for local market.
NAVIP was one of the first distilleries who managed to find their way to the foreign market. That’s why the sanctions, that took place about 25 years ago, managed to destabilize the production. It’s good to know that many costumers remained loyal to the drink they loved, and every year about 100.000 bottles find their way to bars, restaurants and family tables in America, Canada, Russia etc.
It’s very interesting how one culture affects another. German people started to show interest in slivovitz, when Serbs introduced them to it, while being on season jobs in Germany. And, I could never forget the words of the British young man, who was considered for lost or kidnapped, who had no idea that the entire Belgrade is looking for him, while he enjoyed the slivovitz.
Prokupac- One of the Oldest Distilleries of Slivovitz in the Balkans
The story of Prokupac begins over half of the century ago, in 1955. For all this time, the factory managed to produce almost 270 million liters of beverage.
My mother still keeps the old package of Manastirka Slivovitz, made by Prokupac distillery. I remember, when I was a kid, I would always grab it, and pretend to be an adult, but a pretty drunken one. I would start talking nonsense and my sister would laugh at it. Some may say that it’s not how kids should play, but on the other hand, it seems as a way better option than sitting in front of the computer.
The story of Prokupac begins over half of the century ago, in 1955. For all this time, the factory managed to produce almost 270 million liters of beverage, and as such, became the biggest factory of alcoholic beverages on Balkan. It really makes me sad to see that after all the success this factory had, and after all the medals and prizes it won, it ended up fighting to survive, in the new, grim days.
Not so long ago, Prokupac was supposed to be joined with another company, but instead of better work with a joined forces, all that happened was the other company acting like a parasite. Business, contracts and politics almost destroyed the well-known producer of excellent drinks.
Did you know?
One of the most well-known products of Prokupac distillery is Manastirka Slivovitz. Besides being a tasty drink, Manastirka was often used and a healing potion. I don’t know what would doctors say, perhaps they wouldn’t agree on this, but my grandmother would use it whenever I catch a cold. In order to bring down the temperature, she would perform a massage over my hands and feet with the Manastirka. Some say that any alcoholic beverage would do the trick, but this one has been often in our home, so it had the main role in everything: healing, drinking, cheering…
Some say that the recipe for this drink was invented centuries ago, perhaps even by St. Sava himself, but those are just stories without actual proof. However, it is most likely that its production started in monasteries, as the name suggests (manastir=monastery).
Even today, during the whole struggle Prokupac has to deal with, Manastirka is welcomed in every home. I’ve seen lately on the online auctions, that people are ready to give over 2000e for a 30-year old bottle of Manastirka. Considering the fact that the crisis is still present in this part of the world, we can assume that it remained popular and that people haven’t forgotten its old glory.