Half a century ago, in Stakliškės, a small settlement of Lithuania, the production of mead, the drink that is as old as the hills, was revived. Mead is being produced there according to the old Lithuanian traditions from natural local products.
Stakliškės mead represents Lithuania
When choosing a souvenir from Lithuania, alongside amber, linen articles or šakotis (the spiky traditional Lithuanian cake) a bottle of Lithuanian mead will never be forgotten. This is an exceptional product that can be found nowhere else because this beverage is produced from local bee honey and from herbs grown in the same region, and is distilled through natural fermentation. Water for this beverage is also taken from a local well. Stakliškės is situated far from the largest cities and motorways, in the surroundings of forests and hill forts. Natural conditions, especially clean surroundings, which are characteristic of Stakliškės region alone, determine a distinctive taste of the drink.
Mead is made according to the old production traditions. Since the time of reviving production of mead several mead production recipes have been selected and improved, and the same kind of mead is being produced up to date. Stakliškės managed to preserve those traditions, which have disappeared in other places. Today new technologies have been implemented in the Company but mead is matured in exactly the same way as several centuries ago, in the cellars of estates of castles.
In 2002 Stakliškės mead was given the status of Culinary Heritage. Lithuanian mead is highly appreciated at exhibitions, has been awarded various medals or prizes many times. In Lithuania alone, mead has been awarded six gold medals and was acclaimed as “The Lithuanian Product of the Year”, won six medals for excellence at the Exhibition AgroBalt.
Lithuanian mead has also won international recognition. In 2007 mead nectar Suktinis won the first place in its category in Poland. In 2008 the World Intellectual Property Organisation awarded the Company for intellectual creative work in implementing innovations and their preservation. Lietuviškas midus has implemented the ISO 9001 quality management standard. Mead is exported to Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, the Czech republic, the United Kingdom, and the USA.
Lietuviškas midus has filed an application to the Council of Europe for registering the geographical indication for mead Stakliškės and the Heads of the Company expect to receive the approval. Lietuviškas midus is the only mead producer not only in Lithuania but also in the Baltic States.
Quality and naturalness
At the present time Lietuviškas midus produces mead of three kinds: Bočių, Trakai and Stakliškės. This is a beverage with a low content of alcohol (12-15 % alcohol by volume) made exclusively from natural products and distilled through natural fermentation. This yellowish, aromatic, sweet and not too strong drink can be drunk as aperitif or with sweet dishes and deserts.
Each kind of mead differs in its taste and aroma. Mead Stakliškės is named after the town in which the Company is situated. This is a sour vitamin-rich drink made from natural bee honey, flavoured with hops, lime-tree blossoms, juniper berries and other extracts, which contain vitamin C. The taste of honey is felt best in mead Stakliškės. This drink, which contains 12% alcohol by volume, is left to mature through natural fermentation for up to 12 months.
Mead Bočių that contains 14% alcohol by volume has the colour of amber; its aroma is a wonderful mixture of bee honey, hops and juniper berries. It is made from the best kinds of Lithuanian honey and is fermented with vitamin-rich beer yeast.
Mead Trakai is named after the old capital town of Lithuania, which one passes by on his way from Vilnius, the present capital of Lithuania, to Stakliškės. This kind of mead has the colour of amber, a unique aroma of honey enriched by hops, lime-tree blossoms, juniper berries and acorns.
Alongside these traditional meads, other mead beverages are made in Stakliškės too: four mead nectars, two mead brandies and mead balsam. Mead nectars are stronger than mead and are mixed with ethyl alcohol and mead distillate and flavoured with natural berry juices.
Mead nectar Vilnius, which contains 25% alcohol by volume, is made with strawberry juice; this is a refreshing and mild drink. A rich darker colour and the unique aroma and a taste of nectar Šventinė, 30% alcohol by volume, is obtained from natural juices of blueberries, cranberries and cherries. Apple and quince juices, apple juice distillate give original acidity to nectar Trys Karaliai, 41,7% alcohol by volume, and its piquant taste is obtained from mead distillate, honey and dandelion blossoms or roots.
Nectar Suktinis containing 50% alcohol by volume is especially popular in Lithuania. Its rich brownish colour and an excellent taste and aroma are obtained from natural juices of blueberries, black and red currents freshly squeezed on premises and extracts from medicinal plants.
The pride of the Company is mead balsam Žalgiris. It contains 75% alcohol by volume. This is a unique product of especially high quality that is obtained by distilling mead four times and flavouring it with a bouquet of fragrant herbs. The production technology necessary to produce Žalgiris is extremely complicated and the process is very long – it may take up to 24 months. Later the drink may be matured further.
Lithuanian names were selected for mead and other mead beverages to reflect the values important to Lithuania: history, events, and cultural heritage. Stakliškės mead played its role in preserving the Lithuanian identity in the Soviet era, and today it is an excellent “ambassador” of Lithuania abroad.