Rakia and how to properly consume it – Quince rakia

Quince rakia is the kind of rakia, which is always a very, very hot, always relevant and so to say slightly spicy topic, with which we continue our series, dedicated to rakia and how to properly consume it.

Quince rakia is a very highly valued rarity, whose masters are definitely our neighbors in Serbia. Due to many reasons, including the fact that this is the type of rakia that probably suits the widest range of meze, quince rakia is extremely popular and highly valued not only in Serbia and on the Balkans,  but also around the world. Although declining, there are still limited quantities of fruit and good craftsmen to make real, good and high quality quince rakia.

Why is quince rakia so special?

Unfortunately the fact that quince rakia is in such high demand and the availability of the fruit is so limited, leads to serious unpleasant consequences, namely that it is undoubtedly the most manipulated and abused with rakia on the market. Of course there are no official statistics, but according to estimates of most of the people in the industry, the manipulated quince rakia is perhaps over 95% of all the available rakia on the market. As unpleasant as it is for us to mention it, the chance to come across a real, genuine quince rakia, which is not perfumed, manipulated in any way and is made only from quince, and not on the basis of apples or grapes with a little quince distillate added. Most of the genuine quince brandies are extremely expensive and are sold only in high-end restaurants, boutique stores or only directly from the manufacturer.

Manipulating quince rakia

There are three methods for manipulating quince rakia:

  • Rakia based on apple or grape (distilled to neutral) distillate, which is blended with a little quince (intense in aroma and taste), very often slightly sweetened distillate is a very common methodology in making homemade quince rakia, practiced by the fans of quince rakia at in the case of home production, trying to reduce its cost. Very often this rakia is sold cheaply by producers of home made rakia, claiming to be good quince rakia, which it is definitely not.
  • Grain distillate with added flavors and aromas – extremely dangerous and harmful to the whole market practice, which unfortunately is widespread. We, RakiaSHOP team, find it extremely inappropriate not only to apply this practice, but even to comment it!
  • Grain distillate with added (macerated in it) leftovers from the food industry such as quince peels left over from the production of cakes and all other types of confectionery – a method that is widely practiced by a small number of producers in Serbia.

How can we recognise the genuine quince rakia?

We are aware that many questions will arise here about how to distinguish the genuine quince rakia from the rest. This is something that is a very long topic on which we could write a separate article, but in general our opinion is that it should be explained directly at a tasting. One possibility for this would be, for example, the Rakia Tastings we organise together with our friends from Raketa Rakia Bar and Cocktail Bar Sputnik, events you can learn more about on our facebook page. We invite you to read our article on this topic Rakia and how to properly consume it for guidelines in this direction. Once again we also invite you to one of our rakia tastings, where this is one of the most frequently discussed topics. You can find more about our tastings here.

At this point, it is about time to end the topic of manipulated and non genuine quince rakia. We’ve given it a way too much attention, which it doesn’t deserve, but at the end the day it represents almost the entire market.

The quince – fruit with low level of suger content. Should we add suger during the rakia production process?

Another extremely hot topic related to quince rakia is whether and how much sugar or its substitutes may be added during the production and the fermentation process. In general the opinion of our team on this topic is clear and it does not differ from our opinion regarding the production of any other type of rakia – the addition of sugar or its substitutes in the production of rakia from our point of view is generally unacceptable and pointless and leads to a significant reduction of its quality. However, it is a well-known fact quinces is a rare kind of fruit that in addition to being relatively rare, quince also reaches quite low levels of sugar content.

Indeed, the low sugar content of quince makes the production of rakia from them without the addition of sugar or its substitutes in home conditions extremely difficult due to the simple reason that it is difficult to reach the necessary alcohol content of the fermented mash. In reality, no matter how many kilograms of quince are used in the fermentation process and no matter how ripe they are, there is a high probability that the alcoholic content of the fermented mash may not be high enough..

At the end of the day, the real challenge for quinces is to get enough soluble sugar to ferment.

The fundamentals for producing real quince rakia

Based on our experience we can say the following – on the one hand there is the case of what is the expectation of the producer regarding the alcohol content of the fermented mash. On the other hand, in order to ensure that the quince mash reaches the necessary alcoholic content, various techniques need to be used which are either not used in the production of the other more popular types of rakia or their application is easier and / or limited. We will leave this discussion to the actual professionals in this field, but would like to only briefly  discuss the techniques used:

  • Enzymes are used to help reach soluble sugar. The choice of the exact type and amount of enzymes is based mainly on experience.
  • Quinces are crushed into small pieces, sometimes even to a quince paste, again in order to reach soluble sugar and facilitate fermentation.
  • The mash is heated at high temperature before distillation as it nearly boils – a method which is quite expensive and complicated to apply. In addition to requiring knowledge of its application, it also carries certain risks.
  • A small amount of quince distillate is poured into the mash during in the fermentation process, which allows the alcoholic content of the mash to be distilled to be increased. However, as far as we know, this is also a rather complicated method which is rarely applied due to the lack of experience and knowledge for its application. The obvious risk in this case is that the fermentation may stop prematurely.

The distillation of quince rakia is specific in that, as with for instance apricot and pear rakia, the mash to be distilled has a high degree of thickness. It is important during distillation to have even heating and heat distribution. As with the above mentioned fruits, in this case distillation vessels using steam as a source of heating are preferred. It is also extremely important that the distillation vessels are well cleaned for the purpose of hygiene and isolation of unpleasant residual aromas and flavors from previous distillations or distillation cycles.

Maturation of quince rakia

Quince rakia is the type of rakia that responds very well to maturation, but at the same time it is also extremely pleasant in its non matured (fresh) form. These are actually the two basic styles of quince rakia. In the recent years, matured in oak quince rakia is better known and sought after. Given how difficult it is to find real natural quince rakia, we must note that finding real matured in oak quince rakia is even more difficult. The reason is that due to its high cost of production and significant funds invested in advance in the production of real genuine quince rakia, producers usually look for options to sell it as quickly as possible in order to get a return on their investment as fast as possible. Unfortunately, these considerations and circumstances lead the producers to quite “creative” methods of “maturation”, including even the addition of caramel with the purpose of acquiring color or the maceration in the bottle of any kind of branches from different types of wood, as well as any other invented methodologies that we do not even want to comment on.

Our suggestion for good quality quince rakia

In the world of Bulgarian quince brandies, we can offer you Quince premium reserve Isperih  – rakia with a high level of maturation and notes of overripe quince, vanilla, caramel.

Quince rakia Nostalgija Zaric – is an example of a fine, well-balanced and matured for 3 years in oak rakia characterized by its freshness and pronounced citrus note. Extremely fresh and easy to drink rakia.

In the heavy category we offer Monogram Quince rakia – a 4-year-old quince rakia, characterized mainly by its extremely strong taste and high level of complexity going in the direction of nuts, caramel, vanilla, tea leaves.

In the heaviest category we offer you an absolutely unique Dunja Hubert Barrique 1924. This is a bourbon-style rakia, aged for 2 years in a barrique (225 liter oak barrel), offering very well-preserved fruit in both taste and aroma, while offering a great structure and intensity of taste and aroma as well as very good oak extraction. This is a rakia with extremely high level of complexity.

Food pairing for quince rakia

As already mentioned, quince rakia is the rakia that most likely suits the widest range of food pairing (meze). Starting with fine meze, cooked dishes and going all the way to heavier kinds of meze, quince rakia is the right drink for the occasion. Good examples of meze suitable for quince rakia are for instance:

  • Beef prosciutto
  • Dried pork neck
  • Old Mature cheeses with an elegant aroma, especially goat cheese, for example baked with honey
  • Olives
  • Carpaccio
  • Goose liver

In conclusion, we would like to note that the production of high quality quince rakia at home is close to being impossible. We do not even want to comment on the production of quince rakia by adding excessive amounts of sugar in the fermentation process. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is widespread. However, those who use this method should realize that they do not actually produce quince rakia according to classical methodology, because they do not actually carry out fermentation of quince, but fermentation of added sugar with maceration of quinces. This is a process that is, to put it mildly, meaningless and leads to catastrophic results. However we feel optimistic and we do believe that by providing the people with more and more chances to taste high quality genuine quince rakia and thus increase the demand for it, more and more producers will produce genuine and high quality products in the category.

Please follow our website for more articles regarding the proper ways to consume the different types of rakia. Follow us on facebook to stay up to date for the new events that we organize. You can always contact us on 00359882517935 or if you need more information regarding any rakia.

We wish you nice time reading and PLEASE DO consume wine, alcohol and any other alcoholic beverages wisely, only for pleasure and most importantly refrain from excessive consumption! Do not underestimate the circumstances, obey the law and never drive after drinking alcohol!!!