Table of Contents
Rakia drink (Rakya) is a fruit or grape-based spirit embodied in many Balkan countries’ everyday life. From birth to last, rakia is continuously present throughout significant life moments. It is not unusual to incorporate the beverage in different rituals or events; on birthdays, prom nights, weddings, Name days, solving problems, turning enemies into friends, a drink that truly has been connecting people for centuries.
There is also a belief about rakia that has healing powers (cures diseases, beats any virus, soothes pain, brings down a fever), and having one a day will keep you healthy, which is excellent. Still, this habit also causes a slight problem; people can’t just stop with one drink; usually, they have more than one, which defeats the purpose of rakia’s “healing” powers.
Rakia for the locals is not just another drink, and it is a lifestyle; even if they don’t drink, people usually have rakia at home. In case of unexpected guests, it is common courtesy to offer rakia and show your guests they are welcome.
A long time ago, my grandfather told me a story about how people didn’t have much in the past, but they were happy and got through their daily problems with a smile. Still, at the moment, they didn’t have at home any rakia, salad, or meze to offer to their guests; that was the time they felt poor and unhappy.
“Rakia Power” is embedded within the cultural lifestyle of the regional countries. It is above politics, alien technology, and even the “Force.”
Is that mean everyone in the Balkans is drinking? The rakia, or I should say its meaning to people’s lives, is so much more than the EU bureaucratic spirit drinks classification of it as a simple wine/fruit spirit/distillate.
If the rakia is called “wine spirit/fruit spirit,” what is a brandy made of, or maybe we can start referring to vodka as beer distillate.
After all, most of the liquors before distillation more or less begin as wine or beer, and I understand the word rakia encompasses a broad spectrum of grape/fruit brandies. Still, it could’ve been used as a separate family name, under which all wine, fruit, and marc spirits can fall within that category and be classified by flavor.
On a local level, almost every country in the region brags about rakia’s ownership and claims it as their national drink. This is fine for national pride or sitting at the table and arguing who makes better rakia, but if rakia is to be regarded as a style of drink, in the way vodka or whisky is, the ownership should not be confined to a particular country.
Based on archeological evidence, I know the Bulgarians have the right to claim the rakia was made for the first time in Bulgaria. Still, instead of arguing who made it first, the regional countries should discuss their case for rakia not being confined to a particular geographic place but more of a style of drink.
Think of whisky(ey) history; the Irish claim they invented whiskey in 1405, and the Scots claim that. Still, it didn’t stop whisky from becoming a type of drink made by many countries and defined by their local geographic location (Canadian, American, Japanese, Taiwanese, etc.)
The same can be accomplished with rakia. We can have Albanian, Bulgarian, Serbian, Romanian, etc., under the official umbrella of rakia and not under the lovely name of fruit/marc spirit. That also will contribute to more extensive use in the cocktail recipes and create an opportunity to increase the rakia overseas marketability and showcase its versatility, not just as a straight drink but as a spirit capable of carrying complex flavor into delicious cocktails. That in itself also falls in line with the 1806 cocktail definition of being a “..stimulating drink…”
If the producers are looking to expand their overseas markets, their main focus should be on breaking the stigma of rakia as being firewater and drunk only as a shot. By cooperating in marketing and education, it will eventually lead to reaching new markets; an easy way, to begin with, will be by creating rakia cocktails recipes, as part of marketing strategy, equally suitable as aperitif or digestif, organizing cocktail competitions, and changing the world perception of rakia.
Rakia Drink Types
The are many rakia flavors, some are served before diner and some after, but in terms of the primary source of production, there are two main varieties:
- It is usually made using a fragrant variety of white and ripped grapes, such as Muscat, Sauvignon Blanc, or Dimyat. If the rakia is made from the remainder of the wine fermentation (marc), in Bulgarian the raw material is called “jibri” is distilled to reach 65% alcohol content. The sweetness of the grape will determine the amount of sugar needed, the best results are usually achieved with a sugar content of around 24%, if it is lower you can add extra sugar.
Fruity and floral scents are the dominant aromas, but the flavor will depend not only on the type of the grape but also when was picked up.
According to the raw material, three main types of rakia can be distinguished:
- Spirits obtained with pome fruits, of which apples and pears are the most common.
- Those obtained with stone fruits, mainly sweet cherries, sour cherries, plums, apricots, and peaches.
- Distillates obtained from berries.
Pretty much any fruit with enough sugar content – needed for producing ethanol, can be used as a base product.
Here are some of the most common fruits and rakia types in Bulgaria and the region:
- Apricots, apples, figs, quinces, plums, peaches, and pears, apricots, berries, sour cherries, walnuts, bananas.
- Šljivovica (plums)
- Bilkova – infused with herbs
- Krushova (pear)
- Anasonliyka (with anise)
- Muskatova (Muskat grape, or any preferred grape variety)
- Dzhibrova / grozdanka (grape pomace /grappa)
- Kaysieva (apricot)
- Praskovena (peach)
- Krushova (pear)
- Yabalkova (apple)
- Chernicheva (mulberry)
- (Quince), smokinova ( g)
- Chereshova (cherry)
- Vishnovka (with sour cherries)
- Plodova (mixed fruits)
- Gyulova (with roses)
- Klekovača (with juniper)
- Orehova (with walnuts)
- Medena (with honey)
Once the producer decides on the type of rakia, it is time for the fun to begin. Few steps need to be undertaken to get the final product.
- raw material
- stabilization, if needed
- aging in wooden barrels
- blending, it is distillers’ decision
- Spirit bottling
Plum spirit (Slivovitz) process ﬂow diagram
For major producers obtaining the right grape/fruit variety, its readiness, organizing the transportation, storage, and preparing the distillation facility are necessary steps to set up a proper production.
The choice of the base material is vital in terms of chemical composition and concentration of different compounds (congeners) which can be found in the distilled spirit, and even if they are a tiny percentage of it, they are significant contributors to the flavor of the rakia.
The majority of Northern Hemisphere harvesting occurs in late August to early October. The right timing is a crucial step not just in winemaking but also in rakia, and a few different factors determine it.
- the ripeness of the grape as measured by sugar, acid, and tannin levels.
- the weather conditions – how they affect the grapes if there is a forecast of hail, rain, and frost, which might have a negative impact by causing vine diseases.
- a choice of using mechanical harvesting or hand pickers.
If one is to make grappa/marc rakia or brandy, then a decision needs to be made regarding the type of grapes needed. For instance, for marc rakia, we need a rich grape variety, showing its aroma in the final distillate. For brandy/cognac, we will probably go with not-so-aromatic grapes since the main flavor will result from longer maturation, critical to achieving the desired smoothens and character.1
In the case of rakia, the idea is to preserve and showcase the underlying aroma of the based product. The achieved perception of quality will rely heavily on the aroma and taste of the fruit itself and how the underlying flavor is recreated during the distillation.
When working with fruit, we usually talk about fermentation and distillation of mash, not liquid, making the fermentation process very complicated, especially the distillation process. The choice of distillation still is of crucial importance to avoid burning and keep the chemical compounds responsible for flavor.
At the same time, some fruit brandies “like” aging, while others find it very difficult or not at all tо tolerate aging in wooden casks since they rely heavily on the aroma and taste of the fruit itself being presеnt in the distilled spirit.
Rotten and moldy fruits should not be used because they produce low quality and defective brandies. Rotten fruits, especially plums and apples, produce brandies with a high methyl alcohol content, which is poisonous.
Тhe harvested fruit must be processed immediately. Any delay degrades the quality and reduces the yield. If working with stone fruits (apricots, peaches), the stones need to be removed as they contain a lot of amygdalin, which is highly poisonous and has an unpleasant odor. If working with seeds fruit, they need to be ground before fermentation.
According to Blagoy Popov, a long-time coppersmith and still maker.
The secret to each good-quality rakia is in the selection of the appropriate fruit. It must be well-ripen and pitted. The distilling process is very important because you should preserve the fragrance of the essential oils, which make rakia taste good.Blagoy Popov, Radio Bulgaria2
Mini pot still
The primary purpose of fermentation is to turn grapes/fruits into a grape juice/mash and utilize the yeasts to transform sugars in the juice into an alcoholic beverage (ethanol and carbon dioxide as a by-product).
Before the base material goes into the fermentation vessels, it needs to be washed to remove any contaminants or chemicals used during the growing process. Fermentation of grapes is often done in stainless steel tanks, concrete vats, or various wooden vessels on a smaller scale.
The resulting fruit pulp is transferred to wooden barrels or plastic cans for fermentation filled half to 2/3 of the capacity, and an activated yeast can be added to speed up the process. The reason for that is the washing process also removes any spores and yeast from them, which makes it hard to initiate spontaneous fermentation. The added amount is usually in the range of 2-4% of the mash volume.
If using ambient yeast (wild yeast-native yeast), the fermentation might take longer to start, but it tends to lead to “terroir-specific” flavors in case of winemaking.
An essential element here is to measure the sugar content of the mash, which should be between 20-24%. There are lots of people who add sugar to kick start the fermentation or increase the sugar content. I prefer rakia without any added sugar during the fermentation, but if the sugar content is higher than 25%, add water to the mash.
After the desired sugar content in the juice has been reached, stir the grape a few times a day to release the juice. We do that for 4-5 days until the sugar content is at 03.
How do we know when the fermentation is done, and it is time to move to the next step – distillation? The simple answer is when all the sugar has been converted, but other ways are to check if the mash is fermented and ready.
Stirring the fermented material does not release gas bubbles and no foam forms on the surface.
if a lighted matchstick served over the mash goes out, the process is not over. If it continues to burn, then the fermentation is over.
By tasting – if you feel sweetness, although weak, the fermentation is not over yet. If bitterness is felt, the process is over and the mixture can be boiled.https://rozbul.com/
Before distillation, the grapes are passed through a pressing machine to separate the grape juice for distillation. The remaining material is separate, washed, and can be used for the grappa (marc/djibri) style of rakia.
There is also the third option of making rakia by mixing the remains of the grape material (marc) and juice.
In Part One, we saw how the distillation process evolved over the millenniums, without mainly focusing on the details of the actual process at present times. This post will look at the types of distillation most commonly used for making rakia.
Simply, distillation is the process in which a liquid is vaporized (turned to steam), recondensed (turned back into a liquid), and collected in a container.4
Distillation is an ancient technology for separating liquid mixtures into their components by applying heat and taking advantage of the differences in their boiling points. It is performed to concentrate ethanol, and desirable aroma compounds as the goal are to obtain the best balance between the congeners present.
The last objective is even more important for the fruit spirits; We must recognize the raw material from which the spirit was obtained.
The chemical composition of the mash or the juice consists of many compounds. Still, the primary ones are ethanol, water, and many other congeners with a very large boiling point difference (e.g., acetaldehyde 20.8°C and benzaldehyde 179°C) responsible for the authenticity and flavor of the spirit.
Not all the congeners have pleasant aromas, and some need to be removed during the distillation process not to affect the final product’s intended quality.
Using different distillation equipment is an important decision that needs to be made, as each type of still may influence the spirit final flavor profile.
Two types of stills are used in the wine/fruit spirits distillation: Charentais alembic pot still and Batch distillation columns.
Batch distillation is usually a two-stage distillation, especially if one is still using alembic.
- The first stage entails taking wine and distilling it until the alcohol strength is 28-30% alcohol per volume.
This is known as low wine. Low wine can be stored for a long period of time, as it is protected against microbial spoilage.
- The second stage is distilling the low wine and collecting it in three fractions.
Batch distillation can also be one-run if single-column batch distillation equipment is used.
Low and High Wines
The distillate at two different stages. Low wine is after it has completed its first distillation. High wine is after its second. From that point, different types of alcohol are created, based on the number of distillations.
Whether one is distilling for small personal needs or in a large industrial environment, it is the same process.
For instance, the tradition of making rakia in the local community is still alive as ever. Whether one is making it at home or going to a local distiller, Kazan (казан) in Bulgaria, the whole process is a full-day experience. We are picking/buying the grapes, fermenting, bringing them to the place, having a few drinks, and barbeque with other people while waiting for the elixir to come out.
The stills used vary from homemade, old traditional ones to modern pot stills batch column distillation equipment. Before venturing into a distillation, though, without much experience, It is imperative to know that improper distillation might lead to severe health issues. The best way is to go to a licensed facility and let them do it.
Once the distillation starts, it boils down to a simple principle on how and when to do the cuts, categorized into three principal fractions, heads, hearts, and tails.
The heads contain a higher concentration of low boiling point components and mainly contain undesirable compounds. They are responsible for an unpleasant, strong, and sharp flavor; there is also a higher concentration of some toxic compounds, which need to be discarded and not be part of a distillate.
The hearts are the best part of the run, and it is right after the head fraction of the distillation. It is a distillate rich in ethanol, carrying fruity aroma compounds. The heart cut differentiates with a clean taste lacking the sharp bite of the heads.
The tail fraction is the last cut to be eliminated right after the heart. It contains unpleasant fatty and oil compounds carried out by water and usually can be identified by the distinctive unpleasant smell of “wet dog.” The tail fractions (with or without head adding) are collected and redistilled because they contain a relatively high alcohol concentration and valuable congeners.
Simply put, we are after the hearts part, as to the decision on where the separation is to be made up to the master distiller or the local rakia distiller. It doesn’t mother if it is during the first or third run. The cuts need to be appropriately done, thus eliminating potentially harmful substances being part of the final product.
Knowing when to do the fractional alcohol distillation is essential from a health point of view and a flavor profile result of the intended spirit.
That will also determine the amount and the types of congeners left in the rakia, contributing to a well-balanced drink, or on the other hand, might lead to a non-desirable flavor, overpowering and masking any other aromas.
Having great equipment and knowledge helps, undoubtedly, but distillation is still a form of art.
If we go back in time for a moment, in 1512 to be precise, and look at one of the first books on distillation Liber de Arte Distillandi de Compositis (distillation apparatus for aqua vitae, i.e., spirits of wine) by Hieronymus Brunschwig, we will see that he wrote a comprehensive book on distillation widely accepted as was one of the earliest writings devoted exclusively to chemical technology. His work was based on earlier records on the distillation of herbal remedies and included a wide range of alchemical distillation techniques.
It was a continuation of what the alchemists were trying to accomplish through distillation, a goal to archive powerful, pure chemicals such as alcohol and strong acids by sequences of steps of “separation” and “recombination.”5
Nothing much changed since then, granted; we do have much more sophisticated equipment, but still, like the old alchemists, the distillers need to taste the final spirit and decide where to separate the fractions and the number of congeners present.
A few ways can help determine the point of separating the essence of the base material from the unwanted chemical compounds.
First step – the Art of Tasting
The head and tail parts cuts can be done based on the sensory evaluation of the distiller. The presence and absence of volatile congeners that give a sharp, strong, and unpleasant smell to the head fraction can be used as a cut point for the switching to the heart fraction. Also, the tail fraction starts with flavor that gives a faded, dull character to the distillates, and it should not be difficult for an experienced distiller to do this by smell.
Taste and smell remain the most reliable method of determining when to cut.
The second indicator of cut points is the percent alcohol of the spirits flowing out of the still, especially for separating the heart from the tail cut. The ethanol strength could be the limiting value for switching from the heart to the tail. This limiting value varies depending on distillation equipment involved, the fruit variety used, the quality of fermented mash, etc.
The third indicator of the cut points is the temperature of the vapor before it enters the condenser. Distiller can make the first cut in the run when the temperature of the vapor in the copper pipe reaches approximately 74–76°C. The heart cut from the tail can be made when the temperature of the vapor in the copper pipe reaches around 87–88°C, and tail distills until temperature reaches 92–93°C when distillation could be over.
Main Distillation Techniques
There are two main distillation technics used in making spirits; Batch and Continuous distillation. They use different equipment, and which one to choose depends on the base material and the desired final product.
For rakia (fruit or grape-based) production, two different sills are predominantly used, alembic copper pot still and batch distillation column. One important note here is that the distillation has to be carried out slowly, or it may lead to hot spots and degradation of the final spirit.
Alembic Pot Still Stages
The first run (raw spirits) has alcohol content around 15–25% v/v, depending on how rich was on alcohol was the fermented mash.
The second run aim is to purify and increase the strength of the alcohol and it has to be carried out much more carefully than the first one. In the second distillation is where the fraction separation is applied.
- The head fraction (or cut) is collected in the amount of 1 to 2% per 100 L of raw spirits. The amount of head depends on how damaged the fermented mash was. If fermented mash waits for a long time until distillation is carried out, then the higher head needs to be separated and thrown out as they are carriers of many toxic compounds.
- The heart fraction starts coming out at 60 to 70% (v/v) of ethanol (depends on how rich in alcohol raw spirits were) and collects until the alcohol decrease to 40–50% (v/v). The exception is Williams’s pear spirit. In the production of this spirit, the heart fraction needs to be cut at the lower alcohol degree (below 40%, v/v) due to the ethyl deaconate ester which distills at the beginning of the tail fraction. This ester is very important for the Williams pear spirits aroma. This is not the only spirit where the cut may vary based on lower alcohol degree, as in the case with some plum varieties.
- After the heart is separated, the tail fraction distills until the end, actually, until alcohol degree achieved 3 or 5% (v/v). The tail is collected and could be redistilled later or could be saved and added to the next run.
Obtained heart fraction usually has an alcohol strength of 45–70% (v/v) depending on the kind and variety of fruit used for spirits production.
If the undiluted rakia has higher proof than the recommended one (40° – 45°), it must be diluted using distilled water.
For example, to reduce the alcohol content of 1L of brandy from 56 ° to 40 °, we must calculate how much water must be added.
To do that, we can use the formula B= (A1 – A2)/A2 x P or the calculator below.
|A1||the strength of the undiluted spirit|
|A2||proportion to the increase in the volume of P + B|
|B||the amount of water|
The dilution can be done in the following way6.
Depending on the quantity, the brandy is poured into a suitable sized container, allowing freely stirring. With constant stirring, the calculated amount of water is added in a thin stream to the rakia. When the amount of water is greater than 2-3 liters, it is recommended to add in portions, after each amount of water to the rakia stir vigorously for homogenization the mixture. Wait a few minutes between before adding another portion of water. This is done in order to prevent possible turbidity of the spirit, which would happen if the entire amount of water is poured at the same time.Prof. D. Tzakov
The linked video below is about how fractional cuts are made during distillation. The video is only for information and not actual advice on making rakia or any other spirit at home.
Most spirits are distilled twice, but some undergo only one distillation run (some fruit brandies, Armagnac) and the separation of the different fractions has to be done at that time. For instance, if we compare the Slivovitz distilled ones to one distilled twice, we can see the difference in the Slivovitz. The one produced by single-stage distillation has a double higher acetic acid and esters, a higher content of higher alcohols and acetaldehyde, but lower methanol content than Slivovitz produced by double distillation.
|Stage of distillation||Alcohol (% v/v)||Total acids (g/L)||Aldehyde (mg/L a.a.)||Esters (mg/L a.a.)||Higher alc. (mg/L a.a.)||Methanol (% v/v a.a.)|
Batch column distillation requires just one distillation to achieve a high alcohol degree in single-stage distillation, during which also these fractions are separated (head, heart, and tail).7
It is similar to continuous distillation, but also there are some differences.
A batch distillation can be done in a single distillation column. There, multiple components can be separated into separate receiver tanks. When distillation of one batch is completed, the column can be used for a completely different component mixture quickly and efficiently. And also, this process can be completely automated and often used when smaller quantities are distilled.
This process gives a very high purity of the separated chemical and maximum flexibility (a single batch process can handle several different chemicals).
The feedstock is added in the continuous distillation column, and the distillate is drawn off without interruption. Each fraction stream is taken simultaneously throughout operation; therefore, a separate exit point is needed for each fraction. In practice, when there are multiple distillate fractions, the distillate exit points are located at different heights on a fractionating column.
There are no interruptions for this process until the completion of the distillation, and it has high efficiency for separation.
Differences between Batch and Continuous Distillation
|Batch Distillation||Continuous Distillation|
|One distillation column. A single column can separate multiple compounds, each to its receiver tank. |
Highly flexible as several different components can be separated using a single distillation column.
|The number of columns required is N-1, where N is the number of components to be separated. Therefore, a multi-component feed will need multiple columns with its reboiler, condenser, and reflux system.|
|The efficiency of a batch distillation process is low compared to continuous distillation.||A higher level of efficiency is inherent in the lack of needing to continually clean and adjust the system.|
The size of the still pot dictates the batch size.
|The quantity that can be processed is limited only by the amount of upstream feed storage.|
|In a batch distillation process, after completion of the distillation of a batch, the column can be used for a completely different component mixture quickly and efficiently. |
One must be aware that the new batch might be contaminated by the different products used in the previous process*.
|In the continuous distillation process, it takes a long time to change the mixture that is being distilled.|
*Tips on How to Clean Pot still.8
The ideas are based on the local distillers (казанджий) experience on how to clean a small pot still.
- To remove stains from the walls of the pot:
- mashed boiled potatoes, which are left on the contaminated areas until dry and then cleaned with a soft brush or woolen cloth.
- clean with onion rings.
- If the problem with greening the pot still
- use a weak solution of ammonia.
- To remove rust
- It can be fixed by rubbing with a brush soaked in a mixture of 1 part by weight of sulfur and 2 parts by weight of nitric acid, after which is quickly rinsed with clean water.
- To remove soot:
- Use gasoline or gas, soap lye or turpentine oil.
- Before each brewing, clean the pot with vinegar and salt to remove deposits.
Distribution of volatile compounds during distillation by using different distillation equipment
Both distillation techniques use the same principles of different points of alcohol evaporation. We have the same finishing parts (heads, hearts, and tails). Still, regardless of that, there are several essential differences in the content of ethanol and congeners that are crucial for the flavor of spirits, and therefore critical to the choice of distillation equipment.
Generally, when we want to preserve the flavor of the distillate base, the better choice will be the pot still, by using its advantage over the continuous column still of being not as efficient and allowing some of the desired congeners/flavors to say in the spirit.
There are also some other factors affecting the perceived quality of distillates as defined by the aroma compounds, and they can be classified into four groups:#aroma.
- Primary aromatic compounds, whose entire aroma appears exactly as in the fruit during ripening;
- Secondary aromatic components, formed during alcoholic fermentation;
- Tertiary aromatic compounds, formed during the distillation process;
- Quaternary aromatic compounds, formed during the maturation process (Tesevic et al., 2005).9
Some of the alcohols are present in distillates and are used to reference their influence over the perceived aromas.10
Distilling strains of S. cerevisiae produce congener classes and depending on the still we use, the final flavor profile will be different.
The distribution of the congeners is dependent on the type of still being used.
The full line – alembic distillation; the dashed line – column distillation, and –*– shows the cut where the higher component is accumulated.
The main reason for those differences is that those compounds show different behaviors depending on alcohol content in liquid and vapor during distillation. They will distill following their relationship with alcohol rather than their boiling point.
The boiling point of methanol is 64.7°C, and it is completely soluble in water. It appears in almost equal concentration in all distillation fractions, and it is challenging to separate the methanol from the ethanol-water mixture.
Methanol presence in fruit-based rakia is significantly higher than in grain distillates. It can be used a prove that the distillate was based on natural fruits, due to the presence of pectin as a natural component of fruits, as the concentration of methanol is dependent on the fruit treatment, the amount of pectin present, distillation, as well as on the fruit’s kind and variety.
According to Dr. Eng. Nikolai Bakalov11,
Methyl alcohol is obtained due to the enzymatic degradation of pectin substances during the fermentation of fruits (apples, pears, quinces, prunes, etc.). The fermentation temperature stimulates the formation of methyl alcohol and it can increase from 2 to 6 times. Fermentation of fruit pulp is best carried out at a temperature of 15 to 18 degrees, and if not controlled, it can reach 35 degrees and then accumulate maximum amounts of methanol. The duration of storage of the mash before distillation is also very important, because with prolonged storage even over 6 months, methyl alcohol can increase by 2 to 3 times, so the distillation is best done immediately after fermentation. Therefore, we must not allow too much methyl alcohol to form during fermentation and storage of the mash before distillation.
When a low alcohol mixture (like fruit-fermented mash) is distilled in a simple pot still, methanol will go out following its solubility in water rather than its boiling point. Being highly soluble in water will distill more at the end of distillations when vapors are richer in water.
That means that methanol will accumulate more in the tail fraction during distillation in an alembic pot still.
When distillation is done using a column still using a high alcohol mixture, methanol will evaporate following his boiling point and present in the first fraction of the distillation in a higher concentration. It will appear mainly in the head fractions when a distillation column is used.
Many people, especially those using local/community distillers, are primarily concerned with a level of methanol in the final product. Still, the higher alcohols can have the same or more significant negative impact on the quality and safety of the rakia.
Among the hundreds of compounds in alcoholic beverages, the higher alcohols and esters are the most important. They are formed during the fermentation process and are considered a by-product of alcohol fermentation produced by yeast during alcoholic fermentation. Their quantities in the distillates are managed during the process of fractional distillation.
Since the higher alcohols have boiling points lower than 200°C and are alcohol soluble and partially water-soluble during distillation of low alcohol mixture, they want to escape the water/mash. They will appear mainly in the head fraction, although they have a high boiling point.
When using a column still a distilling mixture with a higher alcohol concentration (higher than 40% (v/v), the higher alcohols will distill following the boiling points, their concentration will increase as the distillation process progresses, which explains why the higher alcohols are present in the tail fraction of distillation as opposed to being in the head fraction in a pot still process.
The Higher alcohols^ are responsible for the pleasant flavor and the character of fruit distillates only when they are present in smaller quantities. On the other hand, high amounts can affect the distillate flavor by producing a strong, pungent smell and taste and being mildly toxic.
They are also the most significant volatile aroma compounds in distilled alcoholic drinks.
According to research between 2009-2013 conducted in Skopje, North Macedonia12 were the most important higher alcohols of grape and plum brandies.
- i-amyl alcohol
- namyl alcohol.
For example, i-amyl alcohol, a contributor to the fruity aroma, is the most abundant higher alcohol in grape and plum spirits.
Esters are essential compounds due to their particular contribution to flavor and aroma and usually are associated with a pleasant, fruity, and flowery fragrance.
One of the most common esters in wine is ethyl acetate, a product of the volatile acetic acid and the ethyl alcohol generated during the fermentation. Its presence in the final product will vary widely, from lower in grape rakia to much higher in plum rakia.
The boiling point is 77.1°C, which explains why ethyl acetate can be found in the head fraction of both distillation processes, and it has the largest presence in fruit spirits as of more than 80% of all the esters.13
The importance of ethyl acetate is such that the ratio of total esters and ethyl acetate indicates the quality of spirits.
On the other hand, the high level of ethyl acetate can indicate prolonged storage of raw material and potential acetic bacteria spoilage. 14
According to Galya Mihailova, head of the testing laboratory in the National Institute for Research of Wine and Spirits (NIIVSN) in Bulgaria,
A high level of esters, such as ethyl acetate is more harmful than methanol, and it is formed during the fermentation process if the producers are using spoiled and molded material (fruits, jams, etc.).
Particularly dangerous is the hydrocyanic acid, which is the most common in fruit brandies- plums, apricots, peaches, who are distilled with the stones.https://www.24chasa.bg/novini/article/4393478
Other chemical compounds found in distillates
- Acetaldehyde – fermentation by-product, associated with the type of yeast, fermentation, and distillation. Present in the head fraction. Associated with intoxication and ‘hangover’ symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, restlessness, sweating, confusion, decrease in blood pressure, higher heart rate, and headache.
- Benzaldehyde – presence in spirits in much higher concentrations if the mash is fermented with stones. A smaller presence is desirable, as it introduces aromas of bitter almond, marzipan, cherry in spirits.
- Furfural is aldehyde formed during distillation – is a part of fruit distillates and act as proof of natural products being used as a base.
- Acetic acid accounts for more than 90% (v/v) of the total acidity in spirits. Acetic acid is a by-product of alcohol fermentation. Lower presence means better quality from a consumer perception view, higher levels introduce sour taste and pungent smell.
Many more high alcohols and volatile acids are found in the final products. Some of them are desirable, and some are not, and a few factors influence their level of presence.
- Fruit variety fermentation conditions – probably the most important part is the choice of products and their handling.
- Distillation – when the fractional distillation/cut is done – it is a form of art to find the balance of the congeners contributing to the final flavor.
- Distillation equipment – using pot stills will allow the keep and achieve the more pronounced character of the material used (grapes/fruits) instead of the column still, which due to its efficiency will result in cleaner spirits. The choice between the equipment will depend on the distiller’s intentions, cost estimate, and flavor strength of the materials.
Based on the last two reasons, one might decide to go with batch column distillation as it is more efficient, cost-effective, and suitable for less fragrant fruit/grapes due to the ability to achieve higher extraction of esters and then the alembic still.
The aroma compounds in fruit distillates, as I mentioned before, are as results of complex interaction and contribution to the final flavor profile is formed during three or four production stages, depending on the product maturation period, if any.
- During the ripening of fruits
- During fermentation
- During distillation
- During maturation15
Stabilization in the food and beverage world is referred to as the process of improving the viscosity, texture, longevity, and appearance of food products or drinks.
In the wine industry, cold stabilization keeps tartaric acid crystals from forming after the wine has been bottled. If wines are not cold stabilized, there is a chance that these crystals will form when consumers place bottles of wine in the refrigerator or store it for long periods. Later on, when you serve it to friends or customers, they might see tiny crystals on the bottom of the glass, which looks like broken glass.
In the food industry, for that purpose, the producers are using stabilizers or hydrocolloids in their recipes to achieve their goal of stabilization and improving a product taste; chefs and bartenders are creating and changing the appearance or texture of dishes and drinks collectively known as Modernist Cuisine or Molecular Mixology.
If we look at a few of these additives, we will probably recognize them.
- Xanthan gum – used in ice cream to prevent the formation of ice crystals and improve smoothness.
- Carrageenan – used in ice cream and plant-based milk such as soy milk, to improve mouth feel and increase viscosity.
- Arabic gum – beverages
There are many more hydrocolloid compounds with similar functions and widespread use, but the question is, do they belong in rakia making, and why might someone decide to use them?
Organic and non-organic origins might cause cloudiness in fruit brandies.
- Organic origin.
- Turbidity of organic origin is mainly due to increased amounts of tannin, ethanolignin, dextran, and other organic compounds. In such cases, rakia is clarified with gelatin, egg white, or bentonite. At home, egg white is preferred, because it does not cause over-clarification, the same is for gelatin.
- Non-organic origin.
- Increased content of iron, copper (copper), and calcium. The latter occurs when using hard water for alcohol degree correction. Turbidity may also occur in cases where a large amount of water was introduced once. To prevent this turbidity is recommended to use distilled water and import to small portions, in the form of a thin stream with constant stirring of the brandy.
- White clouding of brandy.
- Although rare, sometimes brandy comes out of the pot with slight whitish turbidity. The reason for this phenomenon may be due to the material to be boiled or the distillation regime. In such cases it is not requires processing (clarification). When aged in a wooden container or in a glass container with added wood, the brandy clears spontaneously.
- Sometimes if the color has a blueish, greenish, brownish hue, the reason might be as a result of the interaction with the material of the fermentation vats (copper or iron), which means the rakia has absorbed some of these elements. The best containers for fermentation are wooden and plastic.
To clarify rakia at home is not easy, and according to prof. Tzakov is impossible, but here is one recipe from his book “DIY Quality homemade rakia -the secretes of Prof. D. Tzakov.”
Clarification with Egg White
The dose for 100 liters of brandy is one egg white.
The egg white is whipped into 100 ml lukewarm water (35-38 ° C) to obtain an emulsion. This can also be done with a mixer.
A little brandy (about 1 liter) is added to the whipped protein, stirring constantly.
The prepared emulsion is introduced into the brandy in a thin stream intensively stirring. Leave alone for 5-7 days. During this time, the precipitate formed falls on the bottom. The clear brandy is decanted (separated) with a hose attached to a wooden lath so that its end is 4-5 cm higher than the end of the lath. This is done so that sludge overflow can be avoided during suction and turbid again brandy.
If the clarity is not sufficient, the brandy can be filtered (strained) through two or three layers of gauze or cheesecloth. The precipitate is also filtered through two or three layers of cheesecloth. The resulting clear brandy is added to the other and poured into glass bottles. Plastic screw caps can also be used.
The reasons to use any of the following options in rakia making might be a taste you don’t like, something it went wrong during the fermentation, improper distillation cuts, or no patience to wait for spirit maturation.
Father modification to the color, taste, and aromas is possible after the distillation process has been completed, and it is a choice based on the producer’s satisfaction with the distillate.
- Sweetening – used in the stabilization as taste improvement.
- Rakia does not tolerate sweetening, but a slight, barely perceptible sweetening softens the taste and it becomes softer. Sweetening is usually done with a pre-prepared syrup of water and sugar. The preparation of the syrup can be done in a cold and warm way, in essence, simple syrup made cold or heated.
- Using honey instead of simple syrup, similar to simple syrup, but will add taste to the spirit.
- How to – With a constant stirring add the syrup into the rakia, depending on the amount of brandy the portion of syrup can be between 100-200 ml. After each serving, the brandy is stirred vigorously and left for ten minutes to homogenize. Take a sample and taste. If the taste is not satisfactory, the second portion of sugar syrup is added. Stir, wait 10 minutes, and take a new sample again.
- It needs to be left for a week to balance, then poured into bottles, and stored in the basement.
- Glycerin – colorless, odorless, sweet-tasting. and usually added to vodka. The usual added amount is between 0.5ml – 2ml per 1L.
- Gum Arabic – used to improve the mouthfeel of the spirit. The added amount is 0.5ml to 50ml per 1L.
- Toasted oak chips – usually used in glass jar maturation, due to lack of barrels. Fill the jar only 70% in order to give proper oxygen access to the distillate.
- The coloring of the brandy is done after sweetening. If this is ignored changes in clarity and color may occur. Coloring is best to do with natural dyes that are easily applied at home and which more importantly, are not harmful to health compared to chemical (synthetic) colorants.
- Aromatization of rakia can be done in different ways:
- by using aromatic fruits as starting material.
- by the direct use of natural aroma sources during the fermentation or distillation process.
- indirect use of natural aroma sources – flowers, leaves, seeds, whole plants, incl. and herbs. Done after distillation, similar to the way of adding simple syrup.
- figs – use a few of them (5-7, more it will change the aroma of the spirit) per 700ml, keep it for 3-4 days.
In the case of spirits, it is the decision of the producers whether to implement such processes. If they opt for such a step, their goal will be to improve the smoothness of the alcohol and remove its harsh taste.
Maturation is my preferred method of improving rakia’s flavor, letting the aging process work its magic, and staying away from the additives, but that’s my personal preference, and I believe as long as you enjoy your drink, go for it!
- Maturation – after distillation the barrel of choice will determine and add will additional aroma into rakia. On how long to keep it in the cask will depend on different factors and no one answer fits all. Some of the factors to consider are:
- type of cask – oak or cherry
- size of barrels – smaller and new cask will speed up the maturation process.
- ambient temperature of the storage place – in theory higher temperature above 20°С will speed up the aging compared to 10°С, but that will also increase the evaporation and will affect the strength of the distillate.
- If not sure, keep it for at least a year and you see a change of taste – mellower and smoother as well as a slight change in aroma due to interaction between the casks and the distillate.
There are some brands there or even homemade ones older than 10 years, most of them though after the desired barrel-aging time are transferred into glass vessels.
- The fruit brandies’ maturation is usually shorter than the grape ones, as the wooden cask negatively impacts the initial fruit flavor.
- Maturation in Glass vessels.
- When the amount of rakia is small and there are no suitable wooden containers, aging can also take place in glass (damajani). However, due to the lack of oxygen, the spirit is not enriched with phenolic compounds, and as result is not aging. It remains as it was poured, regardless of the duration of storage (aging).
To age, it is necessary to create conditions close to those provided by wooden vessels. In practice, this is achieved by adding wood to the brandy from which to extract phenolic compounds. Both in industrial and domestic production small chips, shavings, or sawdust from old dry oak wood are used for this purpose.
- When the amount of rakia is small and there are no suitable wooden containers, aging can also take place in glass (damajani). However, due to the lack of oxygen, the spirit is not enriched with phenolic compounds, and as result is not aging. It remains as it was poured, regardless of the duration of storage (aging).
The goal of blending spirits is similar to making cocktails. By mixing ingredients (spirits) with different maturation and flavors, we are creating nuanced and complex new drinks, and as in the case of distillation, it is a form of art. For creating blended spirits, one can argue that we need very skillful master blenders, aware of all the aroma properties and balancing them to create an enjoyable result.
Regarding the rakia, blending is not as widely used as in scotch or brandy production, and the reason for that is the choice of base materials and the intended final flavor.
In fruit rakia making, the distillers aim to preserve the initial flavor. By blending two different aromas, they will venture into the realm of cocktails instead of having a clean and easily identifiable product.
They can not blend spirits with different maturity, as aging changes the rakia’s expected aroma and color.
In grape rakia, blending is easier to implement, but it depends on the grape used. The less aromatic types are the most suitable for that purpose, similar to cognac, as they benefit the most from the maturation aroma impact.
Spirits Bottling and Marketing
By bottling, I don’t mean when the spirit is bottled, but why is it important to do it. As trivial as it may sound, the packaging decision will most of the time make or break a product on the commercial market, especially on the international one.
The spirits market is highly competitive. Every producing company aims to create a niche, enter a new market, differentiate from other competitors, and maximize the profit potential of its products.
Having a good product is half of the work, the more difficult part is convincing people to buy your drinks and not someone else’s.
Why consumers buy what they buy
Consumers base their decisions on internal and external search. About 70% of potential buyers in the store are unsure what they will buy. Their decisions are based on a subconscious irrational feeling about how an item looks, how it makes them feel, what memories bring back to life, remembering other people’s reviews, etc.
We can generally summarize the consumers’ approach to decision making as:
- Internal search – it is based on their previous experience, most of the people will go something familiar, if not convinced by the product design or the lack of knowledge about it. It creates a steeper obstacle for new entrants to a market.
- An external search is about acting upon other consumers’ feedback for a particular product on social platforms, reviews, and search engine results.
Once the producers are aware of the reasons people might buy similar products and understand their psychological motives, they will be able to design a marketing strategy of successfully exploring new opportunities and maximizing their sales.
Targeting an irrational cause for making a decision can be made by looking at the triggers.
- Packaging – rakia producers are already doing a good job in bottle design, I would say better than vodka, gin, or whisky, where they are lacking is more exposure. Packaging represents instant communication in a way of:
- Buyers are aware of it
- It is present at the crucial moment when the decision to buy is made
- buyers are actively involved with packaging as they examine it to obtain the information they need.
- market appeal
- creating consumer loyalty
- brand equity – being compared to a well known similar spirit brand
- Color – is regarded as part of the packaging, but also is component deserving a closer look.
It is regarded as probably the most important and most influential element on person’s decisions and evaluations. Color has a profound effect on consumers behavior, thoughts, and subconscious – the main trigger of our shopping intensions.
As the different colors has different influences on human psychology, and the way we perceive color is based on our cultural upbringing, income, gender, personality etc.. focus should made on researching the color perceptions and associations of the target market.
Color examples of perceptions
|white||youth, light, truth, cleanliness|
|yellow||joy, sunlight, sociability, wealth, friendship|
|red||celebration, energy, excitement, masculinity, purity|
|blue||royalty, wisdom, creativity|
|green||good luck, inteligence|
|orange||energy, desire, heat|
The color meaning in the West might be associated with other potentially negative perceptions in Asia or any other part of the world.
- Font – The text on the product is an important tool for effective communication, it may help attract consumers or convey a perception of exclusivity. Some examples of fonts used in marketing are:
- Serif – used in formal marketing, implies expensive, warm.
- Uchronia – desire
- Sans-Serif – less formal communication. it implies young, modern, cool.
- Freight Sans medium- Script fonts – handwritten, expensive, soft, delicate, relaxed, happy.16
Designing packaging/bottling is not a process that should be taken lightly. It is a science, and it is becoming more critical, especially with consumers’ increased screen time, the abundance of social platforms, and easy access to information.
Well-designed packaging means a functional and pleasing experience seamlessly integrated into everyday life for the consumer. Consumer-oriented packaging can benefit a business by creating a competitive advantage, increasing customer satisfaction, and boosting sales.
And one last thing about advertisement.
Don’t just use comparative marketing (mine is better than yours); focus on how people will feel if they buy your product.
I’m finishing this article the way I started it, talking about marketing. The “Rakia Belt” needs to realize that having such a great product, with so much variety and traditions, should not be left to individual producers to market the spirit or to the EU to tell them how to classify one of the world oldest drinks. Still, all these countries (producers, resellers, governments) should establish a common strategy for proper marketing to put the rakia on the world stage.
EU recognition of Geographical Indication
Geographical indications are distinctive signs used to differentiate competing goods and collectively important assets in designing a marketing strategy.
According to the European Commission:
A geographical indication shall be an indication which identifies a spirit drink as originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of that spirit drink is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content
This is a small sample of some European counties GI designated spirits. For a complete listing, check this post on Geographical Indication.
12 Records – Bulgaria Geographical Indication (GI) of Rakia
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01864||Grozdova rakya ot Targovishte||4. Wine spirit||Registered||28/11/2018|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01865||Karnobatska grozdova rakya / Grozdova rakya ot Karnobat||4. Wine spirit||Registered||30/11/2018|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01867||Yambolska grozdova rakya / Grozdova rakya ot Yambol||4. Wine spirit||Registered||09/10/2019|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01862||Troyanska slivova rakya / Slivova rakya from Troyan||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01863||Loveshka slivova rakya / Slivova rakya from Lovech||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01860||Suhindolska grozdova rakya / Grozdova rakya from Suhindol||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01855||Sungurlarska grozdova rakya / Grozdova rakya from Sungurlare||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01857||Straldjanska Muscatova rakya / Muscatova rakya from Straldja||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01856||(Slivenska grozdova rakya / Grozdova rakya from Sliven)||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01858||Pomoriyska grozdova rakya / Grozdova rakya from Pomorie||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01861||Rakya from Karlovo||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Bulgaria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-BG-01859||Bourgaska Muscatova rakya / Muscatova rakya from Bourgas||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06|
1 Records – Cyprus GI
|Spirit drink||Cyprus||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-CY-01942||Ζιβανία / Τζιβανία / Ζιβάνα / Zivania||6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc||Registered||13/02/2008|
5 Records – Greece – GI – Grape marc
|Spirit drink||Greece||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-GR-02079||Τσίπουρo / Tsipouro||6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc||Registered||13/02/2008|
|Spirit drink||Greece||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-GR-02038||Tsipouro of Macedonia||6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc||Registered||12/06/1989|
|Spirit drink||Greece||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-GR-02019||Tsipouro of Tyrnavos||6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc||Registered||12/06/1989|
|Spirit drink||Greece||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-GR-02022||Tsipouro of Thessaly||6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc||Registered||12/06/1989|
|Spirit drink||Greece||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-GR-02054||Tsikoudia of Crete||6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc||Registered||12/06/1989|
15 Records Hungary GI
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02489||Madarasi birspálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Published||31/05/2021|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02232||Nagykunsági szilvapálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||03/05/2021|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02408||Vasi vadkörte pálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||25/03/2021|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02490||Sárréti kökénypálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Applied||06/03/2019|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02477||Nagykörűi cseresznyepálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Applied||13/07/2018|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02471||Homokháti őszibarack pálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Applied||25/05/2018|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02233||Nagykunsági birspálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Applied||18/10/2016|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-01829||Újfehértói meggypálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||04/02/2014|
|Spirit drink||Hungary, Austria||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU+AT-02048||Pálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||13/02/2008|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02052||Gönci Barackpálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||13/02/2008|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02031||Törkölypálinka||6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc||Registered||13/02/2008|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02039||Szabolcsi Almapálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||23/09/2003|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02042||Kecskeméti Barackpálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||23/09/2003|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02053||Békési Szilvapálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||23/09/2003|
|Spirit drink||Hungary||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-HU-02047||Szatmári Szilvapálinka||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||23/09/2003|
1 Record – Spain -GI- Grape marc
|Spirit drink||Spain||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-ES-01914||Orujo de Galicia||6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc||Registered||12/06/1989|
9 Records – Romania GI
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02005||Pălincă||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||13/02/2008|
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02012||Vinars Vaslui||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02000||Vinars Murfatlar||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02001||Țuică Zetea de Medieșu Aurit||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02011||Vinars Vrancea||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02007||Vinars Târnave||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02004||Horincă de Cămârzana||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02006||Vinars Segarcea||4. Wine spirit||Registered||21/06/2005|
|Spirit drink||Romania||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-RO-02003||Țuică de Argeș||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||21/06/20|
2 Records – Slovenia GI
|Spirit drink||Slovenia||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-SI-01826||Dolenjski sadjevec||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||13/02/2008|
|Spirit drink||Slovenia||Geographical indication (GI)||PGI-SI-01830||Brinjevec||9. Fruit spirit||Registered||13/02/2008|
- Radio Bulgaria
- How to make homemade rakia – Prof. D. Tzakov’s secrets. Book, 2011
- Spaho, Nermina. (2017). Distillation Techniques in the Fruit Spirits Production. 10.5772/66774.
- Vesna Kostik, Shaban Memeti – Institute of Public Health, North Macedonia, 2013
Biljana Bauer – Institute of Pharmacognosy, Faculty of Pharmacy, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University
- Nermina Spaho