August 10, 2009

Pain in a Bottle

Spencer Ackerman gets acquainted with slivovitz:
I’ve never tasted a brandy before, but I’d be surprised if all brandies are as cloying or as rubbing-alcohol powerful as this. Every glug caused pain. Not since I was a juvenile delinquent drinking King Cobra with members of my band can I recall being this affected by a drink. This morning I saw that under the influence of Slivovitz I blogged something that I cannot recall writing.
That's about the size of it. I got a bottle of Rudolf Jelínek (a slivovitz from the Czech Republic) for Christmas last year, and I can attest that it's the kind of drink that will grab you by the collar and slap you around for a while. In fact, all the liquors in the rakia family (of which slivovitz is one) have that "cloying," "rubbing-alcohol" quality to it. What I haven't been able to figure out is what makes rakia different from other brandies, which generally aren't as harsh on the palate. Most brandy is distilled from grapes, which is not the case with rakia, but there are many fruit brandies, e.g., calvados, that are comparatively smooth. I know that grappa, which has a harsh rakia-type taste, is distilled from all the bits of the grape left over from winemaking; perhaps rakia distillation uses a similar process?

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