What is a distillery?

A distillery is a traditional artisanal manufactory for beer brewing or making home-made vodka, known as moonshine vodka. They have been used in Belarus since around 16thcentury, built near castles, noble estates and taverns (inns). Usually distilleries were positioned in close proximity to rivers and ponds, sometimes – in estates themselves. At first, they were constructed from wood, later from stone. Often, in addition to principal buildings, a distillery included some additional constructions – malt-house with the dryer and the pantry, and sometimes even bathhouse and living accommodations.


Who invented vodka?

Vodka prototype was produced in the11th c. by Arabian physician Razi. In Europe, the first distilling of alcohol-containing liquid was doneby Italian alchemist monk Valentius. Provencal chemists adapted the distillingtank, invented by Arabs, to be used for converting grape juice into alcohol.The resulting volatile liquid was thought of as the “spirit” of wine (Latin -«spiritus vini»), giving its name to alcohol in many languages.

Vodka in Russia

According to the legend, monkIsidore of Chudov monastery created a recipe of the first Russian vodka around1430. The official term "vodka" appears for the first time in thedecree of Empress Elizabeth in 1751. Vodka came to Belarus in late 15th- early 16th cc. from Germany. Originally, it was used as amedication and sold in pharmacies. However, it soon became a popular drink,gradually displacing beer and mead. At those times the alcohol content rangedfrom 15-20% (so called “simple”) to 70% ("aquavit"). Various liquorssuch as cardamom, raspberry, mint, caraway, coffee liquors as well asvodka-based drinks with herbs, honey, spices, berries and sugar became popularamong Belarusian gentry. The most common type of vodka in the 19thc. was vodka made from rye. The production of potato vodka started in thesecond half of the 19th c. and it drastically reduced not only thecost of vodka, but also its quality, since vodka made ​​from potatoes is hardto purify from fusel oils. At the end of the 19th c. distilleries werecommon for almost every noble estate.


«Bread wine»

For a long time vodka was known as wine of various kinds.

“Brewed wine” is оne of the first names, related to theproduction of vodka;

"Bread wine" is thegeneral name of vodka in the second half of the 17th c.;

"Rye wine" is adesignation of vodka in the middle of the 19th c.;

"Bitter wine" is vodka withdifferent bitterish herbs.

 "Burning, burntwine" or "hot wine" is vodka made in the Ukraine;

 "Korchma" (theRussian for the tavern) is illegal-produced vodka, i.e. moonshine vodka.

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