The strong alcohol

Categories: Eriks Zachs

Do you know and could you tell me how was homemade strong alcohol made in Latgale in former times?

I can tell you how my parents made it at home. Homemade strong alcohol was cheaper that the one sold in shops. And that was a useful thing, that could be used to pay for some ploughing up or harrowing, therefore my father and mom sometimes made it in rather small quantities. They took a 40 l can, poured water in it, dissolved about 6-7 kg of sugar in it, added yeast, some slices of stale rye bread and then kept it in some warm place. They covered it with some old blanket or something for it to keep warmth. It was used as a thermal insulation material. When the drink has brewed, it was put on the stove and distilled using a self-made distillation apparatus. In the beginning, the first liquid was usually poured off and the very last was not distilled, because it was not strong and was smelly. Thus they made the drink of 40 % by volume – a bit more than forty degrees – the home-made distillate. Later it was possible to improve it. Sometimes, maybe, the same drink was distilled for the second time and then they added either some plant flavourings or a bit of Latvian Black Balsam, or dissolved some coffee. Other people dissolved liquid sugar or caramel. Thus, they got the final product. Those who drank it, I was a kid then and I didn’t use it, considered that good enough. That’s about all, in brief+.




Researcher: Dr. philol. Valentīns Lukaševičs, Daugavpils Universitāte

Popularization of the centres of oral history in the LV-BY cross-border area (LLB-2-143)
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Yanka Kupala State University of Grodno
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