Category Archives: Tasting Slivovitz

Terra Incognita: Byzantian Blue Slivovitz

From time to time I like to draw your attention to some pearls that we find, and the pearls were not promoted enough. Terra incognita. One of them is Byzantian Blue Slivovitz, a masterpiece of plum brandy aged for 12 years.

Suppliers and producers of brandy in Serbia are sometimes too eloquent, too suggestive, too loud. I deal with commercial business people every day, and so far I’ve learned to distract very few facts that can be interesting to us, and not to pay attention to a whole bunch of needless information that they use to impress you. This is the instrument of my self-deffence, developed over decades in commercial business.

What attracted my attention at Byzantian Blue Plum Brandy was- silence. No self advertising, no aggression, no „if-you-buy-1000000-we-shall…“…Nothing of it. The product obviously was supposed to speak for itself. When I met a guy, Zoran Skerlic, the owner and the bearer of the family business of Skerlic Distillery, he just confirmed my intuition.

The Byzantian Blue Slivovitz was designed very ambitiously, but also discretely as well. No one asked about its name. And name itself discovers a lot. Master Byzantian painters managed to gain a special tone of blue that was used for icons and monastery and church frescoes. The tone is known as „Byzantian Blue“ nowadays. It is very stable and long-lasting colour that expresses the sky, the divine, the unreachable, the calmness, the commitment and the meekness. Can you imagine what this brandy is like now?

Being distilled of two types of prunes, „Cacanska rodna“ and „Cacanska lepotica“, these two fractions are left in oak to age for 5 years separately. That way each one of them develops the spcial attributes of its variete. After that, they are blended in certain ratio and left for another 7 years to age together. Why? No idea. I just believe Zoran knows what he is doing. And he is a master.

Just as a message and the appearance of this Slivovitz is complex, so as the Slivovitz itself. A notes of coffee, vanilla, vinegar and roses splash your palate at the same time. You can’t drink it too fast, but slowly, you must feel every step it makes in your body: from nose, through mouth and palate, through esophagus all the way down to your stomach. And there you feel the erruption: after few moments you feel warmth is spreading all over your body, your veins pulsating, heart accelerates. Just like Zoran said: „We make the brandy that warms the body“.

Byzantian Blue gained a Grand Gold Medal at the Novi sad Fair 2010 (avg. 18.73 points). And it’s apricot sister Harmony is even better, so say the people that tasted it. Apricot Brandy Harmony won the name „Champion of the Gold Medal group“ at the Slivovitz of Sumadija contest in Kragujevac in 2018.

Well done, Zoran. Just keep going. And we’ll support you.

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.


AS Group

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.

General Slivovitz

I like spirits with a good background story. When it comes to this one it has more than that. It’s not just a story it’s more of a history lesson, tradition, and inheritance.


Serbian General Zivojin Misic

The general name is dedicated to Serbian war hero general Zivojin Misic who fought in WWI. Slivovitz with his name comes from ethno village Kostunici where general’s mother was born. This village is the famous tourist attraction and it offers various activities for its visitors. Besides that, they produce all sorts of food and beverages. Slivovitz that is made here is all about traditional preparation methods. Also, every barrel is kept in their cellars for years. General slivovitz is filled after four years spent in the deep dark of oak barrels.

The bottle has very interesting design representing plum from which it’s made. For the making of this specific slivovitz people of Kostunicic use two kinds of plum, Pozegaca, and Cacanka. Both plums are very rich with sugar which gives great taste and alcohol percentage to the brandy.

As any other brandy which is kept in oak barrels this one also has that nice amber color and beautiful density. Smell is quite strong and main note you’ll sense comes from the barrel. Alcohol scent won’t attack your nose too hard and you’ll be able to clearly feel plums and freshly cut grass.


Four years spent inside of the barrel is more than enough time for plums to lose their tart and release nice juicy aroma

Plum Brandy Slivovitz Generalwhich you will certainly feel with the first sip you take. As the liquor flows through your mouth your palate will experience pure bliss from flowery aromas and sweetness of plums. As the liquid flows deeper into your stomach you’ll get chills from the alcohol and strong craving for food. This is why General slivovitz is best served as an aperitif. If you take it with a glass of mineral water you’ll be able to sense a dose of vanilla as well.

Forest Plum Brandy Slivovitz

If you like the mixture of pure classic brandy making and innovation of taste Forest Plum Brandy should definitely be your first pick. This product is all about design, both in means of packaging and drink itself. It is made on Zlatibor mountain, surrounded by nature and fresh air. Ingredients are 100 percent organic and raised in an amazing environment.

The bottle is a real eye-catcher, interesting shape, archaic lettering and it’s sealed with wax. This way producer made sure that taste last for years and be as fresh as possible once you open it.

After you take the cork of your nose will feel bliss instantly. You can feel smooth aroma of forest fruits and honey that simply calls you to have a sip. Honey that is used in distillation process is picked from local honey farms and it has a strong fragrance of acacia. Since brandy is stored in oak tree barrels mixture of wood aromas gives it rich smell.buy_forest_brandy

Honey, fruit and plum brandy mixture gives it a dense texture which is very appealing to your tongue. The color is dark yellow, just like honey.

The most important thing is the taste of it. First you’ll feel that smooth and sweet taste coming from honey and forest fruits and then mushed plum taste kicks in. Plums are prepared for distillation traditionally. First they are left to lay inside the wooden barrel for days. This way every bit of juice and sugar from plums is used. That’s why other ingredients can’t take over the primary taste of it.

It’s best to be served before lunch, but you won’t be able to stop after one glass. Because of its soft taste you’ll enjoy it over and over again. The best way to describe it is as Zlatibor’s nature transformed into alcohol beverage.

Stara Rakija at a Shelf

Stara Rakija at a Shelf

Vojvoda Slivovitz Plum Brandy: A Glass Each Morning


Every now and then I like to try something different when it comes to drinks. Usually, I’m stuck with a lot of fancy spirits that come in well-designed bottles, beautiful labels and interesting background stories. Recently I’ve stumbled upon a very minimalistic brandy called Vojvoda. Design of any kind is totally out of the picture and that is the main reason I’ve bought it and gave it a shot. I was led by a saying “Don’t judge the book by its cover” and I was pleasantly surprised.

As I’ve said earlier design is totally out of the picture, bottle is poorly shaped and the label seems like it’s done in a local copy shop. But what I like is inside of the bottle so let’s just forget about this aspect.

The color of Vojvoda is tawny yellow which I liked since it reminded me on domestic slivovitz I always liked. This shade is what makes you think “Yeah, this is healthy and organic for sure!” at least that’s my opinion.

The smell of this slivovitz was surprisingly mild, even floral. If you have it with a glass of water it can resemble to sherbet as well.

Its main quality is its taste! The label said it has 45 percent of alcohol, so I thought it’s going to burn quite hard once I drink it, but it hasn’t. Taste is very mild and smooth! It has a strong aroma of pepper and a bit of wood. After few sips I’ve tasted tobacco as well. Before it’s bottled this slivovitz stays inside of the wooden barrel for at least two years which is enough time to calm the fermentation taste, but not too much to kill the beauty of plum’s aroma. Overall this is great slivovitz if you look at its price and surely something you’ll enjoy before your meal.

"Vojvoda" At the Fair

“Vojvoda” At the Fair

Rakija? What’s this?

Barrique Plum Brandy

Barrique Plum Brandy in a Barrel


R a k i j a  is the Serbian name given to an alcoholic drink made from the distillation of fermented fruit. Rakija can be made out of almost any fruit, and each fruit has its own specific rakija name. Rakia recipes are centuries old and every rakija maker has his own variety and secret ingredients. You can find rakija recipes that contain anise, herbs, honey, walnuts, mint, sour cherries, etc. Each type of rakija has its own subtle and particular taste lying just beneath the initial strong flavor. Slivovica (plum rakija) is the most popular, as well as the cheapest and strongest. Good rakija has a strong taste first, followed by a subtle fruity flavor. Rakija is served in shot glasses but you do not need to drink it all in one sip. The first sip is the most important. Before taking this initial taste, exhale deeply, and then take a quick sip directly down your throat right to the stomach. Now take in a long breath through your nose. You should feel the burning in your chest, not in your throat. Try to distinguish the fruity flavor that appears gradually. Rakia is generally served with serbian salad, shopska salad, pickled vegetables (trushiya), serbian cream cheese (kajmak) or any other salads (depending on the season). This combination forms the first course of the meal.  Wine or beer is served with the rest of the meal. If a drop of rakia is spilled while pouring, it is said “that’s for the deceased.”  After a funeral a toast of rakia is made and a little is spilled on the ground for the soul of the departed.

Double- distilled “Stara rakija”


What did you expect when you saw “Brandy-ing”?

New technology of listening Brandy Norwood? Or New Branding, some complicated marketing method? 


No, Brandy Norwood has nothing to do with it. Nor Brandy Melville. Not even Brandy Alexander. Nor the Brandy itself!

Which Brandy of those I mentioned?

Brandy the drink. It is a close cousin of the Brandy I am speaking about: Slivovitz.  Slivovitz from Slavic Sljiva, the Plum. Plum brandy, fruit brandy, strong and tough.

But with pleasant fruity fragrance and “shaking effect” after the first sip.

brandy buyGolden Stream Slivovitz Plum Brandy, Serbia

More and more Americans taste it and drink it. Not regularly at the parties, because still no one serves it. But occasionally, whenever they take their chance.  If it is colourless, crystal clear a lot of Americans feels suspicious about it. Mistrustful. But if it is aged in oak barrel, like the one on the picture above… Well, they know it. And drink it.

Not only the Americans of the Balkan origin, but a lot of others.

Europeans are more familiar with it: Polish, Czech, Slovak, Croatian, Serbian, Bulgarian immigrants all over Europe are spreading the good voice of their national drink. German- Speaking nations, Austrians and Germans adjoin the Slavic nations and appreciate their national beverage. A lot of youth in Western Europe, travelling throughout Eastern Europe, tasted it. And feel nice remembering the first harsh sip.

Therefore, an invisible process of Brandy-ing is going on all over the world.

Slivovitz is Brandy-ing the world.



slivovitzPovlenka Plum Brandy Slivovitz
Queen Slivovitz Plum Brandy

Whiskey vs. brandy

Brandy means fruit brandy, in Eastern European manner. Probably the most popular sort is Plum Brandy or Slivovitz(slivovica, šljivovica, etc, from Slavic “šljiva” meaning plum).

slivovitzSo, ever wondered should you choose whiskey or fruit brandy? I didn’t. All until I saw my Eastern neighbors not even having a dilemma: they always take slivovica.

1. Fruit brandy bears the playfulness and liveliness from fermented fruit. Whiskey bears sophisticated aroma derived from excellent process of distillation.

2. Fruit brandy should not have artificial aroma or colour: its tawny yellow colour should originate from oak barrel that the brandy matured in. Whiskey normally has artificial caramel colour (it brings a lot of headache if you take few glasses over the red line).

3. Whiskey should be consumed in the evening, it brings calmness and elegance. Fruit brandy, because of captured fruit in the bottle, should be taken during the day, as an appetizer before meals, to keep the body alive and fresh.