UNIQUE, HAND-CRAFTED SPIRITS
Surlan family from the Banat village Novi Kozarci started cultivating fruit in the end of last century. Then they planted their first hectare of apple trees, not assuming how their orchards would spread and multiply during next decades. In the beginning they cultivated fruit only for their own needs and the needs of nearby local market. Eventually they started improving technology and techniques for preparation and production of high quality homemade fruit brandy. Their desire for advancement grew together with fruitful results, so the Surlans found the strongest inspiration for further work in the fast growth of their orchards. In 2003 they received the rescript from the Ministry of Agriculture, which enabled professionalization of their family business. They started producing much bigger amounts of brandy, packing it in original and recognizable bottles and placing it at Serbian market. In 2011 a little family company turned into a serious and big distillery which produces some of the best fruit brandies that can be found on Serbian market today.
Distillation consists of four steps: fruit preparation for fermentation, fermentation- alcohol fermentation of ripe healthy fruit mixture, distillation – making brandy, and keeping it until reaching perfect taste. Any raw fruit materials can be used for the production of rakija if they contain enough sugar which will transform into alcohol during the fermentation process. The percentage of sugar in fruit is directly proportional to the amount of ethyl alcohol that will be produced. In addition to sugar, organic and inorganic substances which give fruit and later brandy specific smell, flavor and colour are equally important.
Time for fruit harvest is specific for each type of fruit, but what they have in common is that the harvest is conducted when the fruit is completely ripe. For good and quality brandy without prussic acid remains, it is recommended that stones are removed and fruit chopped up. If fruit is just crushed without removing stones, it is important that the stones remain undamaged.
After the fermentation, when all sugar is transformed into alcohol, the process of distillation begins. It is very important that distillation is done at the right time, otherwise if sugar isn’t completely transformed into alcohol, there will be less brandy, and if distillation process is late, the fruit mixture can be rotten. The goal of distillation is to separate evaporative components from the substance that is distilled through evaporation and condensation of its transfer into the liquid. Alcoholic-water vapor generated by heat follow other volatile compounds from the raw material that are important for the formation of flavor distillate, because if the mixture was made up solely of water and ethanol, distillate would be a neutral taste and smell. Therefore, it is important to properly carry out the distillation process to the compounds that give a specific flavor and quality characteristics of as many found in the resulting brandy, and that harmful removed or reduced to a minimum. After distillation spirits goes to aging (maturation) that leads to the formation of a unique flavor.
Production of quality fruit and fruit brandies in Banat, Šurlan family seek to “break” the prejudice that only in Srem produce good quality fruit. They also tend to be an example of how a small, family businesses can grow into great factories and oppose the corporate dominance, while preserving the quality and naturalness of the original strength of the product itself.
In the near future it is planned to increase the capacity of work, opening up to new market networks and further penetration into the territory beyond the borders of Serbia, according to GAP standards and HACCP. Future export commitment best proof that the superior quality, performance and resistance can always break through and prove, and also encourage small businesses to fight for their own emancipation.