The First Taste of Rakia 2008

It was a special occasion today as I returned to Yambol town, I had just left my Scottish guests on their own at the farmhouse, they had rented it out before so they knew what to expect and the Bulgarian systems in place. But it was not for that reason, but for a very different reason that today was special. The time was nigh to test this season’s Rakia that had been made a month ago.

The First Taste of Rakia 2008The Rakia had been sitting in the outhouse for a month now and now all the toxins had been rid with a pale colour that had transformed the Rakia from a crystal clear liquid into liquid gold!

As a jam jar was filled to bring it into the house kitchen, it looked very impressive as it sat on the sideboard. The next step was to check its’ specific gravity for the alcohol content. I had brought the alcoholometer back with me from Skalitsa and was ready to test it.

As the measuring tool settled it was clear that the Rakia was far to strong for everyday drinking, it read 50% proof. The next step was to bring it down to around 42% – 43%. To achieve this mineral water had to be added. It didn’t take too much water to get down and after a little stir it was re measured at 43%. Mission accomplished and now the actual tasting comes into the act.

There was already a beautiful cabbage salad and Ayran (buttermilk) waiting on the table, Baba had seen to that knowing that this was needed with the drink. And so it was poured into the small Rakia glasses. The first to try it was Galia, just a sip – it got a shake of the head, which meant yes in Bulgarian body language. That was a relief, but then she doesn’t really like Rakia and never likes to upset me, so there was no evidence to suggest the Rakia was good from this initial critic. Baba had previously been banned from drinking Rakia from her Grandson, who is a doctor, She is allowed rub in on her body, but it is not to be taken internally was the instruction. We had saved a little jar of some 70% proof Rakia on the day of distilling to do just that, but not this evening.

And so it cam to pass that the maker of the Rakia has now to taste his own product, the little swirl in the glass then a big nose and to scent, the alcohol vapours were very strong from this potent little number. Finally the sip with a little pause in the mouth before and letting it trickle down the back of my throat and in the basement of my stomach. It had a cutting edge all the way from the tonsils to the stomach, a piercing heat that never gave up as it left smoking trail all the way down. This was damped with some Ayran and a mouthful of cabbage that followed the imprints left by the Rakia on the lining of my internal organs.

The verdict was clear, not the smoothest Rakia I’ve made, perhaps a little longer in the barrel with the hanging secret ingredients and the mulberry wood to mature a little longer should make it smoother by Christmas. We certainly won’t be short of firewater this winter. Because that’s what it is right now, even with the lower alcohol content.