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The Dor ol team refuses to cut corners. The company singlesources its fruit for distillation and doesn’t ferment from an existing juice concentrate or distill from previously fermented fruit juice. It takes about 10 kilograms of fruit to make a single liter of distillate. “Some will just pick up wine and run it through a still,” Kalusevic says. “We do custom crushes to our desired [specifications] and that hurts a little bit.” Before they’re crushed, the apricots need to be de-pitted. To do so, they go through rollers that push the pits out through perforated metal, leaving just the meat of the fruit on the belt. “At that point you’re just pitching yeast in a fermenter and making yourself a mash,” he notes. “Two weeks later, you start clearing out your distillation schedule. We do a pretty narrow hearts cut—we don’t re-distill our heads, we discard them, capture the hearts, cut the tails off and start again.” It’s ready for dilution after the second distillation. “And, because there’s no column, it is literally two,” Kalusevic points out. As brandy is starting to have a bit of a moment in the U.S., the time may be ripe for American consumers to discover an obscure (to them) fruit-based spirit like rakia. However, the Dor ol team has found that educating the public often can be an uphill struggle. Much of that involves being transparent where others have not. “Half of the battle is undoing the work that has been done— specifically where you draw the line on what hand-made and handcrafted even mean anymore,” Kalusevic says. When people visit Dor ol, they witness the artisanal process in action, without any smoke-and-mirrors or obfuscation. “‘Wow, you guys really make this,’” they’ll say. He details one visitor in particular, a Serbian-American from Dallas, who was intent on having the distillery put its money where its mouth is. He wanted to test that Kinsman was, indeed, a pure fruit distillate and not one that contained added sugar. “He takes a shot of rakia and spills it on a rag and asks for a match,” Kalusevic recalls. “He fires up the rag and says if there’s sugar in the distillate, it will latch on to the fibers, which will catch fire.” The fibers didn’t catch fire. As soon as all the vapors burned off, the rag was hot, but not burned. “It only validated what we already said we didn’t do,” Kalusevic says. Though, right now, 100 percent of Dor ol's production is fruitbased, the company does plan to start making some grain spirits as an additional profit stream to offset the cost of the fruit-only products. “Grain and molasses are so much more cost-effective than fruit,” he admits. “That’s why, right now we’re doing all we can to ramp up our grain distillation. Fruit is incredibly challenging to work with— it’s an entirely different supply chain. In a sense, it’s only available once a year!” But, lucky for curious consumers, Kinsman is available yearround.
Jeff Cioletti is the editor at large of Beverage World Magazine, creator of The Drinkable Globe website, and hosts the web series, The Drinkable Week. WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.