Slivovitz or Slivovitsa is a distilled beverage made from Damson plums. It is frequently called plum brandy, and in the Balkans is part of the category of drinks called rakia. In Hungary and Slovakia it is part of the category of drinks called Pálinka (in Hungary; also used in Romania) or Pálenka (in Slovakia), which are essentially the same as Rakia.
Slivovitz is produced in central and eastern Europe, both commercially as well as homemade. Primary producers are in Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria.
The word “slivovitz” is derived from Slavic words for plum or (more specifically) for damson plum: Serbian шљива – damson plum, Czech slíva, Polish śliwka or Slovak sliv(ka) and the postfix -vice or -vica /vɪtsa/ to add to the name of the brandy to distinguish what fruit was distilled (e.g. Czech meruňka (apricot) → meruňkovice (apricot brandy), broskev (peach) → broskvovice (peach brandy)).
Production and consumption
Slivovitz is produced in mostly Slavic regions of central and eastern Europe, both commercially as well as homemade.
Primary producers are in Serbia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary.
Pokhlebkin (1992) said that Slivovitz’s origin is in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Yugoslavia.
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. Clear Creek Distillery in Oregon is now producing clear slivovitz labelled as such.
In the manufacturing process, the plums and their ground kernels are first crushed and pressed; yeast, starch, and sugar may be added to the juice; and the mixture is then allowed to ferment. There may be one or several distillation stages, depending on the desired final product or region of production, and ageing is common to enhance the distillate’s finer flavours.
Some producers have obtained a Hechsher for their slivovitz, certifying that it is kosher for Passover. Among Ashkenazi Jews slivovitz is associated with Passover because it contains no grain products and may therefore be consumed during the festival when grain-based liquors are forbidden.
Imitation slivovitz is made by flavouring spirits with prune juice and artificial oil of bitter almonds.