For vodka lovers there can be quite a divide. Some stick with the well-known brands like Grey Goose, Belvedere, Chase or Absolut, others on the other-hand are quite adventurous and try new flavours and differences like Zubrowka, Snow Queen or a flavoured Stolichnaya. Babička comes under the latter – something a little quirky with a history to boot.
A wormwood vodka, Babička (pronounced ba-bitch-ka) was inspired by 16th century Czechoslovakian wise old women called “babičkas”. These babičkas freely used wormwood in their potions for its reputation of enhancing sensuality, creativity and love, and of course its mildly hallucinatory effects. The babičkas rapidly became renowned for having mystical healing powers and practicing the art of witchcraft. These recipes created by babičkas represent some of the earliest vodka formulas ever created – a witches’ brew.
Less than 150 miles south-east of the Czech capital Prague, Moravia’s landscape is one of a few quaint villages nestled in acres of fertile, green fields that comes with a rich and diverse history. Marked by the borders of mountain ranges, 16th century Czechoslovakia was named Bohemia and initially a part of Greater Moravia. In the unconventional kingdom of Bohemia, ruled by the Hapsburg dynasty, babičkas were revered by their communities for their invaluable and invigorating recipes and charms using the native aromatic plant of the Old World, wormwood. Unlike their European sisters, the babičkas were not persecuted or burnt at the stake and have since become legendary figures of wisdom and compassion in Czech literature.
Entrepreneur Alex Clarke, was inspired to create the world’s first original wormwood vodka after years of experience in the drinks, travel and music industries. After the discovery of a 500-year-old distillery in the Czech Republic that produced both absinth and vodka, Alex wanted to keep the spirit and name of his creation as close to its birthplace as possible.
So what did Alex do to create a vodka inspired by legend and folklore?
Distilled in the unspoilt landscape of the eastern region of the Czech Republic, Prostejov, Babička is created using only natural ingredients from the wormwood fields to the pure crystal waters of the low mountain ranges and fertile low lands of Moravian corn. The wormwood itself is collected using a traditional method of hand-picking the plant in full bloom before hanging it upside down to dry naturally. Once dried, thujone, a property of wormwood, is extracted from the plant and used to infuse the vodka.
To capture the smoothness that Alex was after, he sourced pure clear waters from two different natural sources, natural spring water from the low mountain ranges near Hana and spring water drawn from a deep 10,000 year old spring near the city of Prostejov. The only grain used in Babička is grown in the fertile low lands just outside of Prostejov and is harvested when young.
Once harvested, the Moravian corn is fermented to create the vodka, before being triple distilled. Separately, the wormwood is macerated along with other key herbs and spices, including fennel and anise, to make a herb distillate. The wormwood extract, thujone, is then added before the distillate is twice distilled.
The vodka is then combined with the herb distillate before being distilled one last time, the sixth step in the distillation process before finally being coal filtered to ensure a smooth texture. The vodka is then left to rest for around 2 months where the flavours and aromas of the herbs and spices become more pronounced to create the final liquid.
So with a rather storied history and production method, how does it fare? Well below I give to you my tasting notes –
Babička – 40%
A good hit of aniseed on the nose with subtle citrus aromas slowly coming through. Rather rich on the palate, with vanilla and caramel noticeable, finished with a smooth hit of wormwood.
So a rather unusual vodka to drink, yet an easy sipper. Great to be mixed too –
The Babička Martini
Wash of vermouth
Wash glass with vermouth and discard, stir vodka straight into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a twist or an olive
Classic, easy to create at home or in a bar, and is perfectly blended to showcase the worlds only wormwood vodka.
There’s never anything wrong in trying something new! Give it a go, soon.
Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.