Since we were just in the Czech Republic a few months ago, let’s talk about one of the liqueurs the Czech Republic is best known for: Slivovice, which is Czech for plum brandy.
We happened to be poking around one of the big department stores in Prague one afternoon called My Narodni, when we discovered a Tesco grocery store on the basement level (which is pretty common in Europe). We realized that we hadn’t picked up any liqueurs from the Czech Republic yet so we decided to peruse the alcohol section and see what we could find that looked interesting.
There were a few bottles that appealed, but one item that we kept getting drawn back to was Slivovice. The bottle’s shape was aesthetically unique, and neither of us had ever tried plum brandy before. They had a few to choose from, and we waffled between one that was clear like vodka, and one that had been aged three years and had a lovely golden tint to it. In the end we went with the aged Slivovice, as we assumed it would be more mellow and flavourful than the one that had not been aged.
We didn’t open the bottle until we got back to Canada. And as you can see, it’s one that we have imbibed in quite a bit since bringing it home just a little over four months ago. The specific brand of Slivovice we purchased was from a company called R. Jelinek, the R. standing for Rudolf. The company was founded in 1894. They also make brandies with cherries, pears, apricots, and apples, plum vodka, absinthe, honey liqueur, gin, whiskey, and more unusual liqueurs such as sea buckthorn, blackberry, quince, and so forth.
For their Slivovice, they use a three-stage distillation process to create smoothness. They also leave the plum pits in the mash during the three-year aging process to add tannins and a more rounded flavour. If you really want to treat yourself, they also make 5-year and 10-year aged plum brandies.
So how does it taste? Interestingly enough, to my taste buds, it’s not unlike a slightly smokey, peaty scotch, like Talisker, but with a bit more fruitiness to it. I find it odd to describe something that, by rights shouldn’t taste anything like a rainy afternoon in the Scottish Highlands, but this is my best description of it. It’s the kind of drink you can imagine sipping while sitting by a fire, reading a good book with some Classical music playing in the background. I would also guess that the non-aged clear Slivovice is harsher and more fruity, less smokey and rich, just due to the lack of aging. But this aged plum brandy is quite nice on a cold night. Which is why it’s half gone.
The best thing though, is that you don’t have to go all the way to the Czech Republic to try Slivovice. It’s exported all the way here to Canada, and you can find it easily enough through the LiquorConnect website, which is a fantastic search engine if you are trying to find out which alcohols are sold where in Alberta. Jelinek, Sudli and Moravska are all companies whose plum brandies can be purchased in Alberta. Cheers!