My first experience of drinking mead (or medovina in Slovak) was years ago at a small Christmas party organized by the local music school staff. My children were taking piano lessons at the school and I was invited as a member of the teachers-parents board. It was a family-style event; the tables were laid with honey cookies and other home-made Christmas bakes, there was wine and traditional Christmas punch. I rarely drink anything that has alcohol in it, but the atmosphere was so warm and festive that I let myself be talked into tasting mead that one of the teachers had brought. It was home-made by her parents, and it tasted divine.
Since then I have sampled some more meads at various food festivals and Christmas markets around Slovakia, and my first choice has become Včelovina, the trademark of Včelco Smolenice from the south-western Slovakia.
When I was researching the topic of Slovak honey for A Taste of Slovakia book, I knew I’d want to write about our mead. And when I met the people from Včelco Smolenice company, I knew instantly they were the right bunch to work with on the subject. Their expertise and sheer enthusiasm for the job was exactly what I needed, as well as the extraordinary photos they happily provided for the book. This is just another way to thank them for their help.
Včelco Smolenice is a small meadery close to Malé Karpaty Hills, where the honey for their mead comes from. Together with fresh spring water from the hills and a special strain of yeast that kick-starts fermentation at 17ºC, the company makes a selection of top-class meads that reap awards in and outside Slovakia. Here’s a short video showing work of and paying tribute to their bees. To learn more about Včelovina production, have a look in A Taste of Slovakia book mentioned above.
Did you know that
- mead is one of the oldest fermented beverages in the world – old legends say it was drunk by ancient Gods and Kings
- the word honeymoon comes from mead or honey wine (as mead is called in some cultures) – it used to be given as a wedding gift to newlyweds, who would drink some of the mead every day for a month (moon) after the wedding to ensure fertility, as well as the strength and courage of their offspring
- mead is experiencing a rennaissance these days as a drink closest to nature in its essence – all you need to make it is honey, water and yeast
- mead is a wonderful ingredient in desserts?
If you happen to be around Smolenice at any time of year, do have a look in Včelco company shop – they sell all kinds of quality honey products on top of their famed mead, plus a limited edition of their very own honey ale.
At the time I was doing my research on mead, the company was planning to build a live beekeeping gallery on their premises to help people understand how important bees are in our lives.