Slivovitz or Slivovitsa
, ˈslɪvɔvit͡sɐ,
, ʃʎîv̞ɔ̝v̞it͡sa,
, ˈslɪvɔvɪts

is a distilled beverage
Distilled beverage
A distilled beverage, liquor, or spirit is an alcoholic beverage containing ethanol that is produced by distilling ethanol produced by means of fermenting grain, fruit, or vegetables...

 made from Damson
The damson or damson plum is an edible drupaceous fruit, a subspecies of the plum tree. Sometimes called the Damask plum, damsons are commonly used in the preparation of jams and jellies...

 plums. It is frequently called plum brandy, and in the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

 is part of the category of drinks called rakia
Rakia is an alcoholic beverage that is produced by distillation of fermented fruit; it is a popular beverage throughout the Balkans. Its alcohol content is normally 40% ABV, but home-produced rakia can be stronger . Prepečenica is double-distilled rakia which has an alcohol content that may...

. In Hungary it is part of the category of drinks called Palenka
Pálenka denotes any kind of distillate, but especially fruit distillate, in Hungary. It is also often used as a generic word for all kinds of liquors, including vodka, gin, borovička, etc...

 (Pálinka) which are essentially the same as Rakia.


The word Slivovitz derives from (Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

) "sliva" /ˈslivɐ/ - damson plum, and the postfix
Postfix may refer to:* Suffix * Postfix notation, a way of writing algebraic and other expressions. Also known as reverse Polish notation* Postfix , a mail transfer agent program...

 "-vice" or "-vica" /vɪtsa/ to add to the name of the brandy to distinguish what fruit was distilled (e.g. meruňka (apricot) → meruňkovice (apricot brandy), broskva (peach) → broskvovice (peach brandy)).

Production and consumption

Slivovitz is primarily produced in Slavic regions of Central and Eastern Europe, both commercially as well as by many households on an informal, homemade basis. Primary producers are in Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

, Slovakia
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked state in Central Europe. It has a population of over five million and an area of about . Slovakia is bordered by the Czech Republic and Austria to the west, Poland to the north, Ukraine to the east and Hungary to the south...

, Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

, and Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

. It is most popularly consumed in those nations, as well as wherever communities of expatriate from these nations exist. Similar plum brandies are also produced in Germany, Switzerland, France, the United States, and Canada, but marketed under other names, such as brandy, Pflümli, or eau de vie
Eau de vie
An eau de vie is a clear, colorless fruit brandy that is produced by means of fermentation and double distillation...


Distilling process

In the manufacturing process, the plums and a liberal proportion of the ground kernels
A seed is a small embryonic plant enclosed in a covering called the seed coat, usually with some stored food. It is the product of the ripened ovule of gymnosperm and angiosperm plants which occurs after fertilization and some growth within the mother plant...

 are first crushed and pressed, then starch
Starch or amylum is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose units joined together by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by all green plants as an energy store...

 and sugar
Sugar is a class of edible crystalline carbohydrates, mainly sucrose, lactose, and fructose, characterized by a sweet flavor.Sucrose in its refined form primarily comes from sugar cane and sugar beet...

 may be added to the juice, and the mixture is allowed to ferment. Distillation gives the crude product, and clarifying processes complete the liqueur, but ageing is required to develop its finer qualities. Its flavour is due in part to the plum kernels, which contain a considerable percentage of amygdalin
Amygdalin , C20H27NO11, is a glycoside initially isolated from the seeds of the tree Prunus dulcis, also known as bitter almonds, by Pierre-Jean Robiquet...

, the characteristic component of bitter almond
The almond , is a species of tree native to the Middle East and South Asia. Almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree...


Some producers have obtained a Hechsher
A hechsher is the special certification marking found on the packages of products that have been certified as kosher . In Halakha , the dietary laws of kashrut specify food items that may be eaten and others that are prohibited as set out in the commandments of the Torah...

 for their slivovitz, certifying that it is kosher.

Imitation slivovitz is made by flavouring spirits with prune
A prune is any of various plum cultivars, mostly Prunus domestica or European Plum, sold as fresh or dried fruit. The dried fruit is also referred to as a dried plum...

 juice and artificial oil of bitter almonds.


In Bulgaria, the "birthplace" of this drink is Troyan Monastery
Troyan Monastery
The Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God or, as it is more commonly called, the Troyan Monastery is the third largest monastery in Bulgaria...

, whose monks have distilled slivovitsa ever since the foundation of the monastery in 14th century. The original recipe included 40 herbs and was passed through the centuries from abbot to abbot. Back in 1894 the plum brandy of the Troyan Monastery was presented at a spirits competition in Antwerp, Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, where it won a bronze medal. There, the world got to know about slivovitsa. Some of the secrets of Troyan slivova are the following: First, it is made of a plum variety that grows only in the Troyan
Troyan is a town in Lovech Province in central Bulgaria with population of 21,997 inhabitants, as of December 2009,. It is the administrative centre of the homonymous Troyan Municipality. The town is about 160 km away from the country capital Sofia. The nearest civilian airport is Gorna...

 Region. It is an old variety which the locals call "Madzharkini plums", very juicy and aromatic whose stone, unlike the Teteven plums, is easily removed from the fruit. Second, and very important condition for good brandy is that the fermentation vessel is as big as possible. Third, it is important that the distillation vessel is with a capacity 80 to 120 litres. Experienced distillers noticed that the same source material gives different taste of the end product depending on the distillation vessel. Fourth, the fruit quality is important; even a small amount of rotten plums deteriorates the brandy. The plum brandy should not be very strong: it is best in the range between 39 and 41 degrees. Then its flavour is most strongly felt and it is best to drink. Some of the most famous persons that tasted Troyanska Slivova are Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 and the former U.S. President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

. Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria
Patriarch Maxim of Bulgaria
Patriarch Maxim is the current head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.He was the second of two children of Nayden Minkov Rachev, but very little is known about his parents' background...

 celebrated his 95th birthday in 2009 in the Sofia Mitropoly with Troyanska Slivova.

In cooperation with the Bulgarian government, the Czech distillery Rudolf Jelinek protected the brands "Troyanska slivova" and "Tetevenska slivova" in the EU in 2007. The same year, this largest European manufacturer of fruit distillates bought a majority share in the largest Bulgarian slivovitsa vinery "Vinprom-Troyan" having bought half a year earlier the second largest "Destila Teteven". However, the Czechs reduced the alkohol content to pay less duty. The production of "Vinprom-Troyan" is mainly for export. For the past 18 years, Troyan has special holiday, The Festival of Plum. This holiday is celebrated at the end of September in Troyan and in the village of Oreshak
Oreshak is a village, situated in the middle part of the Balkan Mountains in Troyan Municipality, Lovech Province, Bulgaria. There is a famous ethnographic complex very close to the Troyan Monastery — one of the biggest monasteries in Bulgaria. In 2005, the village had a population of 2,306...

 where the Troyan Monastery is located. The cult for the plum in the Troyan region exists for ages. The plum has always been an essential produce in this region. Since the beginning of 20th century of plum were made marmalades, pesto, dried prunes, and pulps which were exported in Western Europe. Of course, this fruit is most important as a raw material for the production of Troyanska slivova.
  • Troyanska Slivova (owned by Rudolf Jelínek)
  • Tetevenska Slivova (owned by Rudolf Jelínek)
  • Lesidrenska Slivova
  • Elenska Slivova (owned by the Lyaskovets
    Lyaskovets is a town in central northern Bulgaria, located in Veliko Tarnovo Province, 10 km northeast of Veliko Tarnovo, 2 km southeast of Gorna Oryahovitsa and 5 km south of the Yantra River, north of the Balkan Mountains. Its name comes from the word leska or leshnik , because...


Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 slivovice (as well as its variations from other fruits) is primarily produced in the southern and eastern provinces of Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

 and in Vysočina
Vysocina Region
Vysočina Region , is an administrative unit of the Czech Republic, located partly in the south-eastern part of the historical region of Bohemia and partly in the south-west of the historical region of Moravia...

, where the country prevails its rural character. The production of slivovice was introduced to Czech lands probably by Wallachian or Croatian
Croats are a South Slavic ethnic group mostly living in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and nearby countries. There are around 4 million Croats living inside Croatia and up to 4.5 million throughout the rest of the world. Responding to political, social and economic pressure, many Croats have...

 migrants from northern Balkan since 14th century.

Although there still exists tradition of (illegal) home distilleries
Distillery (disambiguation)
A distillery is a premise where distillation takes place, especially distillation of alcohol.Distillery may also refer to:* Lisburn Distillery F.C., known as Distillery until 1999* The Distillery District, a historic district in Toronto, Canada...

, the majority of production moved to certified local community-owned distilleries to prevent errors during the distillation process (leading to production of toxic Methanol
Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH . It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor very similar to, but slightly sweeter than, ethanol...

). It also allows state authorities to collect their respective taxes based on the proof
Proof (alcohol)
Alcohol proof is a measure of how much alcohol is contained in an alcoholic beverage. The term was originally used in the United Kingdom and was defined as 7/4 times the alcohol by volume . The UK now uses the abv standard instead of alcohol proof. In the United States, alcoholic proof is defined...

 of the product, however there are tax-reliefs for private and non-commercial production of the drink. The usual proof of private-produced slivovice is over 50% of alcohol
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid. It is a psychoactive drug and one of the oldest recreational drugs. Best known as the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, it is also used in thermometers, as a...

 in final product, commercially available mass-produced drinks are mostly lower proof.

Slivovice is usually consumed deeply chilled from a small shot glass known locally as "panák" (literally: a dummy), "kalíšek" (colloquial for a small cup) or "štamprle" (from German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 "das Stamperl", little glass), but is almost never served on the rocks. The cooling helps to overcome the effects of high proof during the drinking, however to enjoy the aroma and taste of original fruit is better to drink slivovice at a room temperature.

The following mass produced slivovice are available throughout the Czech Republic:
  • Rudolf Jelínek, the most famous distillery based in the town of Vizovice
    Vizovice is a town with about 4,598 inhabitants in the Zlín Region, Czech Republic.The first recorded reference to the community was in 1261. Vizovice received town privileges in 1498. The annual Masters of Rock Heavy metal festival takes place in Vizovice....

  • Žufánek, small family-run distillery known for quality products
  • Bonfier
  • Stock

Slivovice, due its somewhat symbolic status of Moravian "national" drink, is strongly presented in local traditions, culture and popculture like in proverbs, folk songs, TV shows and movies.


Serbian Šljivovica is consumed chilled in a special shot glass called "čokanji-čokanjčići" ("fićok-fićuci" in Vojvodina
Vojvodina, officially called Autonomous Province of Vojvodina is an autonomous province of Serbia. Its capital and largest city is Novi Sad...

) of 0.03 to 0.05 dl. It is both part of history and tradition in the country and among Serbs across the world.

Traditionally, sljivovica (commonly referred to as "rakija") is connected to Serbian culture as a drink used at all important rites of passage (birth, baptism, military service, marriage, death, etc.). In religious ceremonies, the Orthodox Church uses wine but rakija is used in celebration of Serbian slava
The Slava , also called Krsna Slava and Krsno ime , is the Serbian Orthodox tradition of the ritual celebration and veneration of a family's own patron saint. The family celebrates the Slava annually on the patron saint's feast day...

. It is used in numerous folk remedies, and is given certain degree of respect above all other alcoholic drinks.

In 2004, over 400 000 litres of Šljivovica was produced in Serbia. Serbia is the largest exporter of slivovitz in the world, and second largest plum producer in the world

Following the claims of several nations to the protected designation of origin
Protected designation of origin
Protected Geographical Status is a legal framework defined in European Union law to protect the names of regional foods. Protected Designation of Origin , Protected Geographical Indication and Traditional Speciality Guaranteed are distinct regimes of geographical indications within the framework...

, in October 2007 the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 went for a compromise solution, leaving "slivovitz" as a generic name, and granting individual nations the right to protect the origin with their own adjective. Thus, "Serbian Slivovitz" (Srpska šljivovica) will become Serbia's first certified national brand.

The most famous and most popular region for making and use of Šljivovica is Šumadija
Šumadija is a geographical region in Serbia. The area is heavily covered with forests, hence the name...


There is also a town in Zlatibor
Zlatibor is a mountain region situated in the western part of Serbia, a part of the Dinaric Alps.The mountain range spreads over an area of 300 km², 27 miles in length, southeast to northwest, and up to 23 miles in width. The highest peak is Tornik at 1496 m...

, called Šljivovica.
  • Flores
  • Wolf Inter Export|Stefan Nemanja slivovitz
  • Navip
  • Stara Sokolova
  • Zlatna Biserka
  • Katz Rakije
  • Prokupac


  • Budič

United States

  • Black Star Farms
  • Clear Creek Distillery
  • Peach Street Distillers
  • Stringer's Orchard

External links

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