Since Mark and I were just in the Czech Republic a little while ago, let’s talk about one of the liqueurs the Czech Republic is best known for. That would be Slivovice, which is Czech for plum brandy. Many people make Slivovice at home from their own fruit trees, which typically also comes with a much higher alcohol content (50%-52%) than the commercial varieties.
One afternoon we found ourselves poking around one of the bigger department stores in Prague, called My Narodni. We discovered a Tesco grocery store on the basement level (which is pretty common in Europe). In that moment, 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.
A few interesting-looking bottles appealed to us, but one liqueur we decided to try was Slivovice. The aesthetically unique bottle called to us, and neither of us had ever tried plum brandy before.
The store had a few varieties of Slivovice to choose from. Mark and I waffled between a crystal clear version that looked like vodka, and a three-year aged bottle, which had a lovely golden tint to it. In the end we purchased the aged Slivovice. 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.
Rudolf started the company in 1894. They also make brandies using additives such as cherries, pears, apricots, and apples. But the list goes on! Slivovice produces plum vodka, absinthe, honey liqueur, gin, and whiskey. And if you really want to get crazy, why not look for their 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. This adds tannins and a more rounded flavour to the final product.
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. It reminds me a bit of 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. You can drink Slivovice chilled (no ice) or at room temperature, depending on your own personal preference.
But you know what’s even cooler about this product? 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!