Artisanal Borovička

Ark of taste
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Homemade Borovička is an alcoholic beverage flavored with juniper berries, Juniperus communis, also called borovec, jadlovec or jalovec. It is a distillate of ripe juniper berries with an alcohol content of 40% vol., produced according to an old recipe preserved in historical distilleries dating back to 1778. At the beginning of the 19th century, home-made Borovička was produced in copper containers in almost every house, mainly by women. Traditional home production remained until the first industrial distilleries were established in the area. This home-made version of Borovička can still be found today, but it is becoming increasingly rare. In Slovakia, juniper grew wild on cleared pastures and meadows during Wallachian colonization in the 13th and 14th centuries. Experts say that even in the middle of the last century, juniper was extremely widespread everywhere. After the decrease in the amount of land used for grazing, however, many meadows began to be overgrown with other tall trees and the space for the light-loving juniper began to shrink significantly. This is one of the reasons why junipers are now a variety to be protected. Borovička has a similar aroma to gin, but the production is different. Gin is a grain distillate, enriched by the flavor of juniper and spices. The production of this distillate, on the other hand, begins with the harvesting of juniper, its purification, grinding and subsequent fermentation. Juniper is a highly aromatic fruit and to maintain all its organoleptic characteristics it is harvested strictly by hand. Distillation is a delicate operation, during which a by-product – juniper silica – which was once used as a therapeutic oil, is removed. The resulting product is then a pure juniper distillate with an alcohol concentration of around 70%. This product is then diluted with distilled water to make Borovička, which is usually drunk as an aperitif. Juniper gives this drink important medicinal functions: it detoxifies the intestine, has antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. However, as production methods have become increasingly industrialized, the artisanal product is harder to find. Some of the historic producers have had to adapt to the market and now use cheap alcohol and juniper, synthetic flavourings; and the resulting product is of low quality. Only a few small family distilleries are still able to produce real Borovička according to the artisanal method, using hand-picked Slovak juniper as the raw material.

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Distilled and fermented beverages

Nominated by:Ladislav Raček