There is a belief among the Serbs that the best place for the foundation of a new house is where a plum tree bears abundant fruits. It is believed that such a house is always a joyful place for its dwellers, and exudes health and progress. When plum brandy was distilled, the head of the house would put on a clean, immaculately ironed shirt, his best trousers, and a new Serbian traditional cap (shaykacha) or some other cap worn on ceremonial occasions.
All this shows how important the plum and plum brandy used to be and still are in the culture, tradition and everyday life of the Serbs. Consumer society is evidently tired of serial production, and craves for original, exclusive and domestic products, too. Serbian brandy meets each of these criteria. Brandy is also an important loop in the so-called tradition branding, a tasty proof that Serbian people have always had a sophisticated feeling for details and differences regarding quality, knowing how to recognize it, feel it and appreciate it.
Repository of aromatic tastes
In the last ten years or so, it has been evident that the tourists who visit our country, as well as the broader public, have begun to recognize the fact that in the cellars of Serbian family-owned distilleries there is a real treasure of aromatic tastes. This is particularly so when old and aged twice distilled plum brandy is concerned. Due to this fact, there is also a need for traditional glasses, bottles and culture of drinking to adapt to the superior quality of our brandy. Such a change is not easy; first of all, it implies cutting ties with bad practice and also the recognition of what tradition has brought, which stands for a quality and an exceptional value.
A four-year research endeavor
Sociologists Ilija Malović and Zoran Radoman understoond this very well, when they initiated the Brandy, mainly portal, and also when they wrote the “Brandy” book together with their friend, historian Vladimir Dulović. After the four years of a field, practical and theoretical research study, these good friends wrote a book on our national drink, in which brandy is observed as a liquid proof of the historical existence, as its loyal devotee through all historical ordeals. In the book, brandy is treated as a product of the tradition, culture and also scientific and technological literacy of the Serbs.
Šumadija region’s school of brandy
The brandy tradition in Serbia is, conditionally speaking, divided into two schools of producing strong alcoholic beverages. One would be that of the French tradition, which Šumadija’s school of brandy relies upon, which implies brandy aging in a wooden barrel, the stabilization process, maturing and coupage. After briefly aging in an oak barrel, such brandies have light fruit notes, frequently also the tones of medicinal herbs and teas. The freshness of sun-bathed grass and mountain air gush out of them. They can be drunk pure, or possibly mixed with tea, lemonade, domestic fruit syrups, etc. The longer the time of aging, the thicker, creamier structure brandy gets, assuming the bourbon vanilla, caramel, banana, coconut and chocolate tastes. Such brandies remind one of quality Caribbean rums or old whiskies. All impressions in old plum brandies must be subtle, appear, reveal themselves and yield place to the next impression. Any vulgar and aggressive fragrance is an indicator of either a mistake during the distilling of brandy or a fraud.
White and fragrant
Apart from aged plum brandies, Serbia is also a country of fruit brandies, which are mostly white since they do not age, but their aroma is quite exciting and their consumers quite passionate. In the book, all the brandies that are produced in our country are described. Thus, Serbia is known for the production of excellent quince, pear, apricot and apple brandies. They are all mainly drunk immediately after the period of distilling and the stabilization period, and their quality is first of all measured by how much brandy aromas remind one of the aromas of the fruit which it is made from.
All that is invisible remains hidden, so the Serbs want to show all the world the important part of their national identity, the part which is a witness to the historical existence, quality and tradition.
Author: Ilija Malović, Author and Brandy, mainly portal’s Editor
Photo: Mladinska knjiga