Istrian Brandy: An Istrian Day Trip, Part 2

Istrian Brandy: An Istrian Day Trip, Part 2

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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. 

Click here for a review of the first stop on our Istrian day trip: Truffle hunting and sampling.

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.

The Aura Distillery, makers of Istrian brandy

Aura Distillery

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.

Valentina guided us through the process of making Istrian brandy at Aura Distillery

Valentina guided us through the process of making Istrian brandy at Aura Distillery.

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 fermentation and distillation process of making Istrian brandy at Aura Distillery

This is our kind of science project!

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).

At Aura Distillery, keeping to tradition is important and includes details like no perservatives in their Istrian brandy and hand-labeling every bottle

Traditional methods are alive and well at Aura Distillery where they still hand-label every bottle.

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.

Millefrutti is aged in these oak barrels - and is Aura's most expensive product in their Istrian brandy line

Millefrutti is aged in these oak barrels – and is Aura’s most expensive product.

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.

Before we started tasting Istrian brandy, we sampled many of Aura's unique jams, made 'just like Grandma used to make them.'

Before we started tasting Istrian brandy, we sampled many of Aura’s unique jams, made ‘just like Grandma used to make them.’

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.

The tasting bar at Aura Distillery where we would sample several flavors of Istrian brandy

The tasting bar.

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.

Aura Distillery produces 17 different types of Istrian brandy - I favored the Olive and Almond

Of all the flavors I tried, I liked the Olive and Almond brandy the best!

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.

During our sampling of Istrian brandy at Aura Distillery, we lost count of how many we tried!

We’ve lost count!

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!

Click here to continue to the next stop on our Istrian day trip: Motovun, a hilltop town.

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Istrian Brandy sampling on our Istrian Day Trip JetSetting Fools

Thank you to the Croatian National Tourist Board and Istria Tourist Board for organizing our trip to Karlic Tartufi and our Istrian day trip. 

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