This four-part series details the four stops on our Istrian day trip. Our adventure through Istria included Truffle hunting and sampling, Istrian Brandy processing and sipping, visiting Motovun, a hilltop town, and visiting Porec, a seaside town. It was a day full of new tastes, sights and experiences.
Brandy before noon? Don’t mind if we do! As regular taste-testers of craft brew and local wine, sampling Istrian brandy at a distillery was right up our alley – regardless of the time of day!
Making Istrian Brandy
After our successful hunt for truffles at Karlic Tartufi, we left Paladini and drove a short distance to Buzet for the second stop on our Istrian day trip: brandy processing and sipping at Aura Distillery, maker of Istrian brandy.
Greeted by Valentina, we were guided through the building and the process of making Istrian brandy. Aura has been producing brandy since 2007, but moved into their current facilities just one year ago. We were immediately taken by the sweet but strong fragrance as our eyes adjusted to the dimly lit space. Constructed of wood and stone, the setting was inviting and an ideal atmosphere for our introduction to brandy. The building was formerly a winery and they are still determining how to incorporate some of the elements – like the 110-year-old barrels that were left behind – into their production.
To make Istrian brandy, they use apples, pears and grapes as a base and ferment the fruit in a temperature controlled environment. Their handmade, tiered copper boiler removes the ‘bad’ alcohol from the drinkable, which is then infused with wild herbs and left to soak for six months’ time.
The production of Istrian brandy at Aura is very traditional. Not only are they devoted to using soley natural ingredients, they still hand label each and every one of their bottles (which requires five separate adhesives).
In the relatively small complex, Aura is able to produce 17 different flavors of Istrian brandy. The Millefrutti, made from 15 different fruits and aged in oak barrels, is their most expensive product. But, they are better known for their Teranino, made using the grapes from the local Teran wine (which we are quite fond of!). In addition to brandy, they also make jam. Focusing on making it ‘like Grandma did,’ their jams are also preservative-free.
Tasting Istrian Brandy
Before we jumped into tasting Istrian brandy, we sampled several of the jams. Of the many unique flavors, I had two favorites: fig and dandelion. Due to the still early hour of the day, our group was a little hesitant to dive into the brandy tasting, but that didn’t last long.
Once we each had our first sip, subsequent pours were requested. I was surprised by the wide range of alcohol content in the different flavors of Istrian brandy – fluctuating from 16% to close to 40%. In the end, I cannot recall how many varieties I tried between ordering my own and stealing a few sips from Kris’ glass. However, I did prefer the sweet taste and smooth finish of those with lower alcohol content.
Teranino was almost velvety, but wasn’t syrupy like some of the other brands we have tried. The Sage was light, but ended with a quick bite, but when I paired it with cheese it was phenomenal. However, my favorite Istrian brandy taste of the day was the Olive and Almond, which had just enough hint of the flavors to make it easy to drink on its own.
Our introduction to Istrian brandy has us wanting to try more. During our remaining time in Rovinj, I imagine we’ll stray from our typical glass of Teran wine and indulge again in the Istrian brandy.
We want to know: Do you like brandy? Have you ever tried Istrian brandy that was infused with wild herbs? Let us know in the comments!