Šljivovica

Šljivovica

Šljivovica (Slivovitz) is the most famous type of fruit rakija, and the strength and pleasant warmth which it causes when it is drunk is especially popular in Croatia and the surrounding countries.

 

Often served as an aperitif at the beginning, as well as a digestive at the end of a rich meal, šljivovica is an alcoholic drink which is tastiest when it is homemade and when drunk in good company. Due to their quality, the šljivovica rakijas of Lika and Slavonia are particularly valued, of which the Slavonian one carries the protected geographical indication due to its centuries-old tradition. Namely, in these regions the plum tree was a part of almost every homestead, and the rich yield every autumn was turned either into delicious jam or strong rakija. In distilleries, special spaces intended for the cooking of rakija, there were large wooden vessels called kaca (tubs) which were used for the fermentation of the fruit, as well as kettles for cooking the rakija itself.

 

In the 19th century rakija was distilled in kettles made from terracotta, but later they were replaced by those made from copper. For the production of šljivovica plum sorts such as the bistrica common plum, which was most often planted in Slavonian regions, as well as many endemic sorts such as bjelica, turkinja and trnovača are used.

 

The ripe plums which fall from the trees or picked are separated from the remains of the leaves and stems so that the hard stones can be removed. The cleaned plums are placed in a tub and left for three to four weeks so they that soften and ferment, and then they are cooked in a kettle so that the precious liquid comes out. Since the cooking process lasted many hours, it usually took place in the company of neighbours and friends, along with the obligatory tasting of the previous year’s distillate.

 

It is believed that Slavonian šljivovica gets better with age, so after a single distillation it is poured into Slavonian oak barrels in which it acquires its unique aroma, golden-yellow colour and recognisable smell of homemade rakija.