Slivovitz is a brandy spirit made from distilled and fermented plum juice. Especially popular in the former Yugoslavia, Albania, Hungary, Slovakia, and other parts of Eastern Europe, slivovitz is considered the national drink of Serbia. Indeed, slivovitz is to Serbia as vodka is to Russia. However, more Americans are buying this plum brandy, and an increasing number of online stores are selling it.
Production of Slivovitz
Made with blue plums often found in the Balkans, this beverage is especially potent, often around 100 proof. It ranges from colourless to brownish-yellow, depending on how it is prepared. Some makers of slivovitz use wood casks (often made of oak) while others use glass and occasionally steel to produce the plum brandy, and this variety accounts for the range of colours. Many Slavs make their own slivovitz at home, but plenty of this strong stuff is commercially prepared in the United States, often using West Coast plums. There’s also no shortage on imported slivovitz, acquired primarily from the plum-producing Balkans.
Serving and Tasting Slivovitz
Almost always served at room temperate, slivovitz is poured into shot-sized glasses and either sipped or slammed quickly. Higher quality slivovitz is often tasted like wine, with experts sniffing and spitting while fussing over subtle differences in aroma, body, and aftertaste. The type of plum, the presence of its pit remnants, and the wood used in production can affect the taste. Lower quality slivovitz does not usually garner as much attention for its richness of flavour as it does for its powerful punch, and this is the sort of slivovitz that partygoers tend to slam. Generally speaking, plum brandy which has an overpowering, burning taste of alcohol is considered lower quality, but many drinkers enjoy the beverage anyway because it can be so potent. Slivovitz is often served after dinner at American restaurants which specialize in Serbian and other Slavic cuisines. In large cities with noticeable populations of ethnic Serbs, slivovitz is also a staple at some nightclubs.
Buying Slivovitz Online
Although it is sold in many liquor stores, the slivovitz seeker will find the broadest selection of this plum brandy online. Both domestic and imported slivovitz is readily available for delivery in the United States. Because it is popular for celebrations such as weddings, birthdays, and holidays, it makes an excellent, slightly exotic gift. Consider hand-delivering Slivovitz to a housewarming party, where it’s sure to be a knockout (perhaps literally).
Here are a few of the recommended websites where American shoppers can buy slivovitz:
This site, based on the Czech Republic, offers worldwide shipping of its slivovitz from the Moravian region. Selling “Slivovitz Zufanek,” the goodmood.cz store touts that its plum brandy has a slight almond flavour. They will ship a premium bottle to the United States for a total cost of about $70.
With an enormous selection of slivovitz, internetwines.com is the ultimate hookup for plum brandies from all over the world. They claim that their imported Badel slivovitz, made with ripe Croatian plums and aged in oak casks, is especially popular. Other well-known brands include Maraska, Polmos, Navip, and Suvoborska (which hails from one of Serbia’s most hallowed plum grounds).
Operating as a small California business since 1940, Ernie’s Deli will ship slivovitz anywhere in the United States for orders over $30. They feature an inexpensive Hungarian slivovitz, a Croatian brand known as Stara, and the well-regarded Jelinek brand that hails from the Czech Republic.
Using plums from the Pacific Northwest, Koenig Distillery sells plum brandy that they liken to European slivovitz.
Offering a selection similar to that of internetwines.com, this store sells slivovitz major brands from Croatia, Serbia, and the Czech Republic, but their prices are slightly cheaper!