Včelovina – Slovakia’s deluxe mead

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?
Agrokomlex Nitra 2011 010 (2)
Včelovina mead has won a number of national and international awards, and was proclaimed the Best Mead in the World at Apimondia 2013

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.

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