How to fine-tune or perfect distilled Slivovitz :

How the fermented and distilled plums are diluted with
distilled water to attain the blend of Slivovitz or Slivovice we want



Having said this, the ladie's bark was actually worse than her bite and she did go out of her way to explain to me most parts of the distilling process whilst making me taste about a million glasses of Slivovits during the 7 hours Luda and myself spent at the distillery.


And here is out lady expert in producing top class Slivovitz

Slivovitz making in the Czech republic is about as much a man's game as it can get with one exception.

At this particular Slivovitz distillery, a nice elderly lady keeps the reigns.

Actually quite amusing to watch Moravian hardened farmers and plum growers some of whom you would not want to meet in a dark alley obey this ladie's every whimand command.

Forgot to bring your own wood to stoke the boiler ?
Wouldn't want to be in your shoes.
The wood you brought is wet or nor dry ?
Start worrying.


So considering that before ut there were two seperate distillers, plus the Slivovitz we distilled, you can imagine how many glasses of Slivovitz I could not say no to and if we add to these the glasses I was offered by the nice lady, I guess in all I had about 15 glasses of Slivovitz in a timeline of 7 hours.


It's a friendly world at the Slivovitz distillery

These two gents were before us in the 'conveyor belt' Slivovitz distilling system and here they are pouring the final Slivovitz into ther own glass flasks.

Each distiller, when done and has his very own Slivovitz, offers two or three glasses of that same Slivovitz to all the others present at that time in the distillery.


After that the rest of the dripping alcohol was allowed to pour into the stainless steel barrel.

In the image above you can see the hydrometer which is the white rod inside the glass bell just in front of the ladie's head.

This is consulted throughout the whole final second distilling and used as a guideline to help decide at which points to start collecting the distilled alcohol and at which point to stop.

It starts off very low, goes up to about 70° at the mid stage of the final distilling, and then goes back down again.

So during this stage we collect alcohol in our stainles steel container which has various levels of alcohol degrees starting at around 10°, going up to 70° and then back down to 10°.

All this goes into the same stainless steel barrel and the actual final result is around 63° of pure distilled Slivovitz

So, just to recap, at the start about 2 litres of the first distilled final alcohol are thrown away, this is called 'foreshots' and also, towards the end when the alcometer shows about 10°, the last two litres (this is called ' tails' ) are once again captured in a bucket placed under the tap and not allowed to pour into the stainless steel barrel with the rest.

These last two litres are not thrown away but used later to give the Slivovitz a very particular taste.



How the actual process of fine tuning the raw distilled alcohol from plums is done

Basically, during the second boiling and condensing of the Slivovitz the result is distilled alcohol which varies in strength depending at which phase of the distilling we are.

Once the final distilled Slivovitz starts to drip from the secondary distilled container, the first batch of about 2 litres is crap.
This is at around 10° volume in Alcohol and slowly rises in alcohol content up to around 70°

The lady placed a bucket under the tap and caught the first 2 litres which were then thrown away.




What our nice lady does now is pretty incredible especially if one has
the chance - like I did - to taste the various stages.

The large test tube you see above is full of the 63° Slivovitz
and is measured via another alcometer.
According to the strength of the alcohol, in respect to the
volume - in this case 2 litres, using special tables - the lady
will pour a small glass of distilled water into the test tube.
By small glass I mean small like this:
In the blue circle, that is the actual small glass used and the actual ammount od distilled water used, not even half full.


And now for some Slivovitz magic

As stated above, the final distilled Slivovitz is at around 63° volume.

63° is way too strong for Slivovitz, does not taste very nice and so we need now to dilute this with distilled water to bring it down to arounf 52°.

51° to 52° is perfect Slivovitz.

And this is what I call the Slivovitz dance starts.



Once the small half glass of distilled water is added to out 2 litre testube of 63° Slivovitz, the alcohol level went down to about 57° and the taste of the 63° and 57° Slivovitz was completely different - obviously.

The test tube is now poured back into the stainless steel barrel, and using more tables and in respect to the volume of the stainless steel barrel content - which was 25 litres of distilled Slivovitz, the lady then poured about half alitre of distilled water into the stainless stell barrel.

So now we have all the distilled Slivovitz diluted down a bit with distilled water.



In this image the lady is actuall tasting the sour stuf, to decide how much to add to the test tube.
Amazingly, after adding just 2 teaspoonfulls, the taste changes once again.

Now the Slivovitz has a much smoother taste, but the alcohol content went down about half a degree.

This is then applied to the whole content of the steel barrel.



This goes on several times, by again filling the 2 litre test tube with Slivovitz from the steel barrel, measuring the alcohol content, diluting the test tube content, and then again the whole stainless steel barrel.

Up to the point where we get to arount 55°.

At which point some of the last 2 litres of wak Slivovitz which came out of the distilling plant at the end is added.

This on its own tastes a bit like sour wine and has an alcohol content of about 10°.



Then the process of diluting the Slivovitz goes on untill we had about 52° of Alcohol content.

At this point any Slivovitz distiller worth his salt and pride would have said 'STOP - we're done'.

But after some more tasting, where finally even Luda had a taste (he was driving so had to watch it) he decided to take the ladie's advice and add a drop more of the sour 10° distillate to make the Slivovitz mellower.

This was first done in the test tube and after tasting the previously 51° Slivovitz and now the 49.5° version, and after some pondering - Luda decided the lady was right and settled for a 49.5° Slivovitz.

Once agreed the rest in the steeel barrel was also brought dowh to 49.5°and that was it.




Here the final Slivovitz is being slowli stirred to distribute to perfection the mellowed Slivovitz.

The final result, from about 120 litres of fermented plums were 25 litres of finest Slivovitz.

So now we have our distilled Slivovitz.



So all we have to do now is offer some Slivovitz to the other distillers present in the distillery

Now it was Luda's turn to offer everyone a couple of glasses of his very own Slivovitz, pour it from the steel barrel into his own container - whch was actually an alluminium milk casket- and go home where the Slivovitz would be left for a week to breathe - in the milk casket - leaving the lid off but covered with a cloth, and then bottled in glass bottles.

Contrary to what many believe, the actual first few litres of distilled Slivovitz that start to drip are not all that poisonous.
It just doesn't taste of much and could ruin the rest.

Yeah - I know - there is a lot of discussion about this but I believe the actual point is that for example that plum stones are not poisonous whereas apricot stones are and the first few litres of distilled plums or anything else have a concentration of this 'poicon' found in highr concentrates of some fruits but not in others.

Also - it very much depends on how good your actual fermented stuf was to start with, what type of process you are using to distill, and how good you are at doing it so if by chance you are distilling anything at home yourselves, my suggestion would be to believe more than not the urban legend of thefirst distilled stuf to be pisonous and to throw it away anyway - unless you know 100% what you're doing.


Final recap after the last distilling

The first two litres of distilled Alcohol that started to come out of the last condenser were thrown away - before the alcohol rose above 10°

The rest was allowed to distill going up to about 70° and then back down to around 10°.

The last 2 litres of the 10° stuff were put into a bucket

The 63° Slivovitz was diluted down with distilled water and the sour 10° distilled stuf to 52°

Then it was mellowed down to 49.5° to give it a mellow and fine taste.