SL= Maraska Šljivovica, SP= Spirit of Plum
SL: Maraska, Zadar, Dalmatia, Croatia.
SP: Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay/Traverse City, Michigan, USA
SL: Slivovitz (traditional Damson plum brandy)
SP: Damson plum eau de vie “made in the traditional style”
SL: $26 Michigan state minimum
SP: $27.50 (website)
SL: Varnish, plum pits, oak.
SP: Underripe plum, varnished wood.
SL: Full-bodied and sweet. A little fruit then all burn.
SP: Light-bodied. Fruit then a little burn.
SL: Mild and sweet.
SP: Fruitier but less sweet. Long.
Parting words: The Maraska distillery is located in Zadar on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. It’s the oldest continually occupied city in Croatia, first mentioned on a Greek instription in 384 BCE, but is likely much older than that. It was refounded as a Roman colony in 48 BCE. I had trouble following the timeline on the Maraska website, but it seems that Maraska was founded in the 18th century by an Italian businessman (it was under Austrian rule at the time). Maraska produces a wide range of liqueurs including its flagship maraschino. Its Slivovitz is widely distributed in the US, or at least is in the US. It is certified Kosher.
Black Star Farms is no stranger to readers of this blog. Their spirits line includes an eau de vie of just about every fruit anybody distills. Their website invokes Slivovitz in the blurb on Spirit of Plum, but its unclear if they use ground up pits in the production of the spirit like slivovitz manufacturers do.
I didn’t do a lot of digging into the world of Slivovitz before I chose Maraska for this exercise. I just found one that was relatively cheap. Maraska is what it is. It doesn’t have much going on except sweetness and burn. What plum character exists is subtle.
Spirit of Plum is elegant and has much more fruit character. It works best as a pleasant, slightly rustic, summertime digestif. Although it’s nearly twice the price per ml, I’d rather have 375 ml of Spirit of Plum than 750 ml of Maraska Šljivovica. Spirit of Plum is recommended. Maraska Šljivovica is not.