THE SPIRIT OF BULGARIA
When consumed responsibly and with pleasure, Rakiya is a sight of its own
In Bulgaria, Rakiya is much more than a drink: it is a part of national culture. There is hardly a festive or everyday gathering around the table to start without savouring a glass of Rakiya, accompanied by seasonal salad and appetisers. Many Bulgarians are proud with their home-made Rakiyas, and in some regions the spirit is made of specific fruit. Rakiya is consumed cooled throughout the year, but in wintertime it is also mulled with honey or sugar.
This elaborate culture is an evidence that Rakiya has been a part of the Bulgarian life for centuries. When exactly did it appear in Bulgarian lands in not clear. The spirit probably arrived during the Ottoman rule, which brought into the country the technology of alcohol distillation.
What is Rakiya? Rakiya is a spirit made of distilled fermented fruit. Bulgarian Rakiya has sisters in the Balkans and in countries like France, Italy, Spain and Germany. And yet, Bulgarian Rakiya has its own aroma and specificities.
The most widespread Rakiya in Bulgaria is the one made of grapes, but the spirit is also produced of other fruit. In the Troyan region is made the famed Troyanska Slivova of plums, while on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast people produce fig Rakiya. Other memorable Rakiyas are made of quinces, apricots, and pears, but these are rarer.
In Bulgaria, home-made Rakiya is a matter of pride. There is hardly a person who have visited a Bulgarian home where the host wouldn't have offered Rakiya made by him, personally. Home-made Rakiyas are produced in the so-called Kazani, small distilleries usually located in the outskirts of the villages and towns. Some home-made Rakiyas are indeed good. Not all of them, however, are good. Some are too strong, and others are made without the following of the rules. As a result, after drinking one of those, you can wake up with a headache.
The safest and most pleasurable way for responsible and filled with joy introduction to Bulgarian Rakiyas is to choose spirits made by specialised distilleries following the standards and the safety rules.
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