Spišská is a town in Slovakia located near Slovak Paradise National Park. And in this town is the Nestville Distillery— one of Slovakia’s largest industrial and commercial distilleries. Most of what they produce is distilled from corn. They produce quite a few spirits, including a line of Borovickas. Spišská Borovička s horcom— “s horcom” literally translates to “with bitter flavor”*— is among their several.
Heavy top notes of water that was soaked with juniper berries along side some ethanol, citric acid and lemon.
There certainly is an aspect to the nose of Spišská Borovička s horcom that sounds as clinical as those initial tasting notes are. But there’s an intriguing and unusual expression of pine and juniper in here. It’s faintly reminiscent to me Steinhager style spirit drinks such as Schlichte.
There’s a peppery bitterness to here, faintly reminiscent of bitters. But also juniper, pine resin, and pine bark.
Unexpectedly, the first note of Spišská Borovička s horcom on the palate is not juniper— but instead black pepper. Pepper, aniseed, caraway, yeasty corn spirit and mushroom all come to the fore. And that’s before the pine resin and juniper notes come on quietly.
The finish is primarily about the juniper. Moderately long with a residual cooked pine note and a nice dash of warmth— Spišská Borovička s horcom is an intriguing and interesting flavor as I’ve tasted in the world of Borovička.
Spišská Borovička s horcom takes the usual subtle flavors of a juniper brandy and elevates them with an interesting and slightly more spice-forward take.
If you’re looking for an interesting take on the Slovak tradition, I recommend taking a closer look at Spišská Borovička s horcom.
International Gin Exchange
Since 2010, David T. Smith U.K. based gin writer— creator of Summer Fruit Cup and author behind 2018’s Tales of the Cocktail nominated Gin Tonica— has been sharing samples of spirits that I can’t obtain stateside.
Thanks to him for this sample!
* I’m not an expert in Slovakian translations, and s horcom may be idiomatic. Google translates it to “with horror,” though horom on its own means bitter. Given the context of spirits, I’m making a guess here. If anyone knows more, please let me know.
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