„Pomoriyska grozdova rakya” has a clear, transparent, free of admixtures, colour, and a fascinating fragrance of white flowers and acacia, and the flavour of vanilla and caramel. “Burgaska muscatova rakya”is characterized by its transparent straw colour, with a pleasant muscat aroma, and the flavour of dried fruit, with a slight tinge of vanilla. Both drinks are with a light to golden colour, acquired during their maturing in oak casks or from the addition of caramel.
The minimum alcohol content of both drinks is 40 ob. %, and in their production, the requirement for producing not more than 75 litres of wine from 100 kg of grapes, and then distilling up to 65 ov.% alcohol, is strictly observed.
Traditional master-distillers know that the drink which has just been distilled has not developed its full potential. In order for “Pomoriyska grozdova rakya” and “Burgaska muscatova rakya” to develop their full aroma and flavour, the distillate is put in oak casks to mature. Traditional coopers who have learned the trade from their ancestors on Bulgarian land have established that oak is the best wood for vessels used for maturing wine and distillates. To make the best casks, they use the unique Strandzha oak. It is oak grown “on rock”. Its pores are extremely narrow and the loss of distillate through the wood is minimal. Experience has shown that the best drink is the one that has matured in at least 4 cm-thick oak casks – thus the oak endures the aggressive impact of alcoho, and the process of extraction of tannin and other useful substances, which refine and improve the taste and colour of the drink, making them rich and deep.
„Pomoriyska grozdova rakya” and “Burgaska muscatova rakya” are products made from fresh grapes grown in the respective region, later made into wine, and then distilled.
- The main stages in the production ofthe drinks with the geographic region reflected in their names – “Pomoriyska grozdova rakya” and “Burgaska muscatova rakya”, are as follows:
- Grapes grown in the region;
- Full control of the fermentation of the wine-material for distillation, wine-material meaning the wine to be distilled;
- Full control of the distillation process;
- Leaving the drinks to mature in oak casks.
- Grape gathering and fermentation
For the purpose of making “Pomoriyska grozdova rakya” and “Burgaska muscatova rakya”, the grapes are gathered by variety by hand when technological ripeness is achieved and a sugar content of minimum 16.1%. The grapes are gathered in plastic cases and transported to the receiving centre, where they are graded by quality. The approved grapes are shelled, crushed, and the resulting pulp is cooled and forwarded for fermentation and subsequent prduction of wine.
The conditions for fermentation and the used yeast are the main sources of aromatic compounds. The significance of the yeast is not only as a producer of ethanol, but they also play a vital role in the formation of compound which lend the drink its typical aroma and flavour. For the process of alcohol fermentation, a pure culture of wine yeast is used, and during the process of fermentation, the temperature, the relative gravity are monitored daily, and tasting assessment is performed. When the process of fermentation is over, the ready wine is sent for distillation.
Distillation is of crucial importance for the aromatic content of the produced distillate. During the distillation, new compounds are formed as a result of the thermal processing – esthers, aldehydes, acetales, etc. For the production of “Pomoriyska grozdova rakya”, both column destillates, produced in the continuous distillation method, and distillates produced in distillation equipment – of the type of Charente stills /distillers/, with intermittent distillation, are used.
Intermittent distillation is carried out in French copper distillers, of the Alambique type. Double destillation is performed. In the first loading of the distillers, from wine with alcohol content of 8 – 12 ob.%, the resulting crude destillate is with a low alcohol content – from 25 to 32 ob. %. In the secondary distillation, the crude distillate is subjected to fraction distillation. Three fractions are obtained – first flow, wine distillate and final flow (with low alcohol content and quality). The middle fraction is high-quality distillate with a potential for development. After the distillation, the obtained product is poured into oak casks and left there to mature.
For the purpose of optimally capturing and retaining the aroma profile, there are different approaches to the lots of wine for the production of “Burgaska muscatova rakya”. Here, the applied destillation is the continuous one, performed in distillers of types K-5, DK-2 and HM-3000. These are Bulgarian types of distillation equipment. The input material /wine/ is with an alcohol content of 8 to 12 ob.%, the resulting distillate is clear, and the esther-aldehyde fraction is separated. Partial refraction is applied for the purpose of increasing the alcohol content of the distillate, concetrating aromatic substances and removing the hard-fermenting, undesired admixtures. The final distillate is clear and transparent, with excellent organoleptic characteristics.
In the production of “Pomoriyska grozdova rakya” and “Burgaska muscatova rakya”, the process of distillation continues until an alcohol content of 56-57 ob. % is reached. The practice of many years has shown that with this alcohol content, a unique balance of flavour, aroma and potential for maturing and ageing of the wine distillate is achieved.
Maturation of the distillate
The obtained ready distillate for the two drinks is stored in oak casks, made of Strandzha oak, with a capcity of 250-620 litres, where, under the influence of micro-oxygenation from the staves of the vessel, the aroma and flavour balance is improved and the typical taste of the drink is formed. The maturation period is at least 6 months.
The maturation of the drinks in oak casks is undoubtedly the most important technological operation, thanks to which the typical aroma and flavour of the drinks are achieved. In the process of maturation, the distillate extracts from the oak wood lignin, tanning extract and hemicelulose. From the aromatic compounds formed during maturation, phenols are of major importance. Blending of the drink follows – distillates of different maturity/age and oganoleptic characteristics are blended, demineralized water with a hardness of up to 3 °Н is added in a quantity necessary to achieve 40 ob. % alcohol content of the drink. The ready drink is stored in suitable vessels and bottled.