Medovukha (Russian: Медовуха, Ukrainian: Медуха or Lithuanian: Midus) is a Slavic honey-based alcoholic beverage very similar to mead but cheaper and faster to make. These two words are related and go back to the Proto-Indo-European meddhe (honey). Known in Eastern Europe since pagan times, it remained popular well into the 19th century (unlike in Western Europe, where mead is traditionally associated with the Middle Ages).
History and manufacture
Wild honey farming was one of the first Slavic trades. They discovered that honey could be fermented, and the first fermented honeys appeared as a luxury product in Europe, where it was imported in huge quantities.
Fermentation occurs naturally over 15 to 50 years, originally rendering the product very expensive and only accessible to the nobility. However, Slavs found that fermentation occurred much faster when the honey mixture was heated, enabling Medovukha to become a folk drink in the territory of Rus'.
In the 14th century, the invention of a distilling tank and a process of distillation made it possible to create a prototype of the modern Medovukha. In the 17th century, the increasing popularity of vodka eclipsed the former fame of Medovukha. During the rule of Peter I of Russia, ancient recipes were lost. Leading production engineers are actively searching for the ancient recipes of Medovukha.
Medovukha producers are very proud of the fact that it is made solely from natural ingredients. Honey from several Ukrainian farms is used, including farms from Poltava and Cherkasy regions, and from Crimea and Carpathians. The honey first undergoes preparation for blending (a high-tech process affordable only by manufacturers with special equipment), then the honey is blended with distilled water to obtain the final product. Other manufacturers add concentrate to a prepared water-alcohol mixture.
Modern commercially produced Medovukha is sold at the honey product shops (that also sell honey itself and a variety of health products produced at honey farms). The revival of the widespread honey products consumption in Russia centers itself around the health-aware consumers, and thus Medovukha itself hasn't yet asprired to any significant share of the alcoholic beverages market. Nonetheless, modern examples include bottled Medovukha sold at the "Russian Bistro" fast food outlets across Moscow, and tap Medovukha of different brands offered by a network of honey shops in St. Petersburg.
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