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BTR

Slivovitz?

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There seem to be two categories of plum eaux de vie on the shelves of the liquor stores I've been to: the ones that run around $20-$25 for 750ml and describe themselves as slivovitz, and the ones that cost twice as much per unit volume and call themselves plum brandy or an eau de vie. The liquors in both categories claim to be distilled from plums; I've therefore obtained a bottle of an eastern European slivovitz and ... it's fairly underwhelming. Not exactly plummy, the way, say, the Clear Creek pear eau de vie is definitely peary. Is that just a stylistic difference, or does the plum flavor not come through very much even in the pricier eaux de vie, or am I a victim of false economizing?

Or, of course, I could just have gotten an inferior slivovitz (this), so if anyone's got recommendations, I'd welcome them.

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While Rudy Perpich was Governor or Minnesota, about twenty-five years ago, we used to joke that slivovitz was the "Official State Liquor".

Governor Perpich, whose own parents had come from Slovenia, was a native of Minnesota's Iron Range, where many people with Eastern European backgrounds had immigrated.

Eveny then slivovitz wasn't real common, although local bars kept a bottle handy in case some old-timer got in the mood to propose a toast. You'd also see it served on special ocassions like weddings and Christmas.

The Jelinek brand was the most common. I seem to recall it packed a pretty good punch, (100 proof), and had a slightly oily feel to it.

SB (would have to say "no thanks") :raz:

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What a timely discussion! I'm working on an article for Saveur right now that will be mentioning Slivovitz... Consequently, in thinking I would have to special order some, I was shocked and surprised to see it available at my local Trader Joe's. Having just bought the bottle yesterday, I opened it just now for this response.

Manufactured by Zwack, this is a green, pear-shaped bottle with yellow labels. Produced in Hungary, it states that it is Kosher Slivovitz, 47% Alc/Vol; 3 years old. I'm afraid I don't recall the price but doubt it was more than $25. It is a clear, thick liqueur and like moke fruit brandies that I have tried, shows more of the pure grain alcohol than it does the fruit.

I can only imagine what Clear Creek's is like -- I enjoy their Muscat Grappa because it is the only Grappa that I know that clearly tastes like grapes. So I am not surprised that this brandy doesn't overwhelmingly taste like plums; it shows a slight sweetness beyond the heat of the alcohol.

I think more research is in order for me... thanks for starting this thread!

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As I understand it, although I'm sure others will correct me, Slivovitz is made by ferementing the fruit, distilling, and if you are lucky aging the spirit in small wooden barrels. Always tastes to me like someone has been sick in it, or is that me the next day after drinking to much. I suppose it can have nostalgic connotations.

Plum brandy and fruit eau-de-vie and the like are made by steeping the fruit in brandy or clear alcohol, filtering or re-distilling. They are not normally aged, and so taste much fresher and more of the fruit.


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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As I understand it, although I'm sure others will correct me, Slivovitz is made by ferementing the fruit, distilling, and if you are lucky aging the spirit in small wooden barrels. Always tastes to me like someone has been sick in it, or is that me the next day after drinking to much.  I suppose it can have nostalgic connotations.

Plum brandy and fruit eau-de-vie and the like are made by steeping the fruit in brandy or clear alcohol, filtering or re-distilling. They are not normally aged, and so taste much fresher and more of the fruit.

Hey, that is the drink of my ancestors you are talking about! :smile: . Yes it isn't really a fresh plum tasting eau-de-vie, if it made well it should taste of the plum kernals, with some rich spicy flavours similar to what you get from prunes, which is the type of plum they are made from. Bad examples are rough, full of methanol and taste oxidized.

You may notice the similarity of 'Slivo' and 'Sloe', shared Indo-European roots apparently.

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Plum brandy and fruit eau-de-vie and the like are made by steeping the fruit in brandy or clear alcohol, filtering or re-distilling. They are not normally aged, and so taste much fresher and more of the fruit.

Clear Creek, at least, has a different opinion:

This is classic Eau-de-Vie de poire.  We use Williams (Bartlett) pears from our own orchards in Parkdale, Oregon. We crush and ferment the whole pear and then distill the pure fruit mash in our German-made pot stills. It takes 28 pounds of pears to make a large bottle of brandy.
(and they say similar things about their other products). Ditto Aqua Perfecta.

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Some fruit brandies are made by maceration of unfermented fruits in alcohol and distilling afterwards (strawberries and other berries, for example), others are macerated and fermented (by adding yeast) and distilling of the mash (plum, apricots, apple, pear).

BTR, I'd try a vieille prune or a reine claude (both are plum variants) made by an Alsatian household producer like Massenez or Léon Beyer (I think both are exported to the US) to become familiar with quality plum brandy. Mostly because their French (and German and Swiss) clients are a relatively demanding customership. I think the eastern stuff is still too irregular, but I had some nice, smooth Barazc (apricot brandy) from Hungary some times ago.


Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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As far as I know, slivovitz is always made by fermenting the whole plum fruit and then distilling the resulting mash.

I second the recommendation of Massenez' products. I recently discovered them and have been really impressed with the quality of all I have tried so far.

Massenez also have a good overview of the the process of the manufacture of eau de vie on their website.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I'm gonna bump this thread because I was just at a bevmo looking to get some pálinka or slivovitz and was disappointed by the fact that I could find very little information on the various Eastern European slivovitzes available (no Hungarian pálinka at all that I saw): there were representatives from Manastir, R. Jelinek, Badel, Navip (which I've had before and liked), Maraska, and Bistra (as well as Clear Creek's blue plum brandy), all of various ages. So I thought I'd ask about those or other EE brands when I got home ... and discovered I'd already done that years ago.

Anyway, I *could* just go with Clear Creek (I *actually* just got some kirsch from Etter), or Massenez, but if anyone has any recommendations regarding the Eastern European guys (including others not mentioned; I know Zwack has some pálinkas etc., for instance), that would be swell.


Edited by BTR (log)

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I like Navip. I was introduced to Slivovitz while visiting Yugoslavia forty some years ago (I try not to think about the headache). I keep a bottle from the 1970's for reference, but the new stuff to my taste is just as good. Navip is aged eight years. My only complaint is that the supply is spotty here.

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Have no idea how readily available these might be in the States, but I recently tried some of the Gabriel Boudier products while on a trip to Ireland. I was very impressed with the quality and flavor. If you click on the Eau-de-Vie in the link above you can see they have a full line of the usual suspects, including regular plum (slivovitz), Mirabelle, Kirsch, etc. There's also a full lineup of "Bartender Liqueurs" that has Blue Curacao, Marasquin (maraschino), Cherry Brandy, Dry Curacao as well as many others that I found intriguing. Hoping to find a source for these here for recreational use, even though I can't get them in PA for professional use.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Boudier Products are really decent.

Their Bartender range is very good and although I prefer Chartreause's Creme de Mure Sauvages to Boudier, their Creme de Fruits and Cassis are pretty brilliant.


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Wonderful article on Eau de Vie by the late, great R. W. Apple:

Eau de Vie: Fruit's Essence

At my local Austrian restaurant Cafe Katja, which has a fine selection of eau de vie, they serve the Clear Creek

slivovitz, and it's pretty tasty.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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Boudier Products are really decent.

Their Bartender range is very good and although I prefer Chartreause's Creme de Mure Sauvages to Boudier, their Creme de Fruits and Cassis are pretty brilliant.

I recieved a reply from their US importers sales office today, While I can't get the Boudier products in PA (yet), they have distribution of another brand of Gluten free potato vodka in the same catalog currently placed in PA, so there's hope. Glad to hear others have tried the line and liked it. Would love to taste my way through the Mixologist series. Some of those flavors sound real decent. The Marasquin maraschino was brilliant. Very floral but with less overwhelming "funk" than the Luxardo. Made a damned fine Hemingway.


Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Wonderful article on Eau de Vie by the late, great R. W. Apple:

Eau de Vie: Fruit's Essence

I've been using a tablespoon or so of the appropriate eau de vie in the fruit sorbets and ice creams I've been making thus summer. Great way to add alcohol to lower the freezing point, I.e,, keep product from getting rock hard in freezer.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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