When first tried distillate grape, it was so long ago, I was four years old. My grandfather said that this Rakia is made to look after our health. He told me the story of production of the drink.
A Brief History of Ancient Thrace and Rakia
The Thracians were an ancient ethnic group. That inhabited parts are of today Bulgaria, European Turkey and the extreme north part of Greece. But the vast majority of Thracian land is in what is today Bulgaria.
The EU recognizes 12 brands of Bulgarian Rakia as produced traditionally in the country. There are protect them via PDO and PGI marks. Which protect the name of a product. Which is from a specific region and follow a particular traditional production process.
My grandfather always said that Thracians invented Rakia from grapes and other fruits to prevent diseases. They were cured almost every sickness with the spirit.
Nowadays there is not Bulgarian who is not breastfed with the magic spirit. We all tried with a finger drop our first Rakia in our childhood. The tradition of making this healing alcohol is part of Bulgarian hospitality. We believe that a party without this magic cannot be made in a proper way of good manner.
How do we make it homemade?
First, from the grapes we make wine. The juice after pressing is using to make white wine if we make Rakia from white grapes. The seeds, skins and pulps which are leaving after the pressing are using to make alcohol. But we add to the sugar and water to star fermentation process. It will take around five days than we distillate. The liquid is staging in oak barrels for several months. The process will repeat every year.
From what products do we make this spirit?
Rakia can be distilled from virtually any fruit. In Bulgaria, grapes, plums, and apricots are most frequently used as a raw material. One specific type is the rose Rakia called gyulovitsa – it is typical of the Rose Valley region, and its taste is very rich. The most famous plum Rakia region is around the mountain town of Troyan in central Bulgaria. The most aromatic apricot Rakia comes from the Tutrakan region, near the Danube River. Sometimes producers add walnuts, honey, or herbs for extra aroma, but it is not very common.
Hospitality and competion
The magic of making the best drink is the way men show their power. Most of the villages in Bulgaria are having competion of best Rakia. And the man with the best spirit has the biggest respect trough the others.
When you meet Bulgarian for the first time, you will have chat and you will drink a glass of his Rakia. We think that hospitality is always hand in hand with this magical alcohol.