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Czechs turn to homemade booze after sales ban

on 24/09/12 at 7:28 am

Booze News

It’s a cherished countryside tradition dating back to the 13th century. And, in a hard-drinking nation reeling from a deadly wave of alcohol poisoning, it’s now the only source of legal liquor.

Early in the morning, locals bring fermented homegrown fruit to makeshift distilleries in kitchens, backyards and garages; by sunset they walk away with vats of slivovitz, a potent plum brandy that many swear by.

Initially, Czechs thought these small brewing outlets — “palenice” in Czech — were included in a nationwide ban that was recently imposed on spirits exceeding 20 percent in alcohol content. But authorities made it clear that wasn’t the case, citing the strict guidelines these outlets adhere to as a matter of pride and that what they produce is for personal consumption not re-sale.

What might seem a risky leap of faith came as a huge relief to Czechs who swear by their slivovitz.

“I was getting afraid that they would even ban this. That would’ve been a tragedy, it would cause a rebellion in the villages,” said 69-year-old Oldrich Chmela, one of a dozen people watching all day this week inside Stanislava Chalupova’s one-room distillery in eastern Czech Republic.

“It’s where ‘alchemy’ happens,” he said.