Scotland has single malt whiskey, Russia has vodka and Bulgaria has Rakia, a delicious fruit brandy. Although its not very well known in western Europe, Rakia is not a drink exclusive to Bulgaria but can be found in most of the Balkan countries. I had an excellent one in Serbia for example
Rakia (or Rakija) is made from distilled fruit and in Bulgaria its usually made from plums or apricots. There is the commercial version (the picture above is the one we are enjoying as I write this) and then there is the home made stuff… Both have their merits.
The commercial Rakia is very drinkable but don’t make the mistake I made and get the cheapest one. In the same way that you can buy Tesco own brand whiskey or Glenmorangie aged 15 years, there are different qualities of Rakia. I bought the cheapest one because I’m a cheapskate but then started buying bottles to actually enjoy. You can tell a good Rakia from a bad one fairly quickly and like Bulgarian Beer, if you get a bottle with English on it you are likely to pay more than if its only in Bulgarian ie; made for the Bulgarian market. Its worth trying to learn some basic Cyrillic alphabet skills (Bulgarian alphabet) as you’ll recognise similar words that way and save yourself time and money. Everything is phonetic and it’s not as hard as you might think. Learning your full name spelt in Cyrillic is a good way to start as you’ll probably learn 15 letters and then you’re half way there.
The strength of Rakia is usually 40% in the shops but the home made stuff is usually stronger (up to about 65% we’re told) and it tastes it! Most towns will have a distillery with huge copper vats heated by wood that the locals use when the fruit is in season. The guys that distil this stuff know what they are doing as the knowledge has been passed from one generation to the next. If they had an “off day” and made methanol instead of ethanol they would poison half the town and baring in mind the fact that gun ownership is legal here, they need to get it right every time. You know the distilleries are there from the mountain of apricot and plum seeds near the building. Chances are there might also be the village drunk hanging around asking people coming to collect their brew if he can have a bit. Can’t blame him, it’s good stuff.
Obviously, enjoy in moderation and good company. Bottoms up!
|Last Updated on Sunday, 18 October 2009 23:33|