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Family's distillery

De Kriek distillery is a small, family-owned distillery for whisky and other spirits. We decided to create it and make real the recipes that we collected throughout our lives. Through this work, leave a good family memory of Vladimir Krikunov, a famous hockey coach, and good, truly family drinks.

Our travels passed through the dank valleys of Scotland and the hot Caribbean islands. We climbed the mountains and descended into the caves. We visited factories, watched the work of the giants of the alcohol business and worked in small factories themselves.

And then, the experience we gained made it possible to understand that for a good whisky only nature is needed. Water, earth and love for what we do, love for our product.

It was the love for quality that prompted us to find a spring with perfectly clean and soft water. Good partners for the supply of ingredients. This love helped us to become not only a family, but also partners in work.

We will be glad if you appreciate the work and love put by the Krikunov family in the tradition of making real whisky.

The basis of everything is water

There are many recipes for whisky, only a few ingredients are unchanged. Barley, yeast and water.

For scientists, water is still a real mystery, but one thing is for sure: the importance of water is enormous and without water there is no life.

Water and people are inextricably linked with each other. Fresh water remains the most important for people. But there is too little of it: only 3% of the total volume of the world's oceans on the planet. And almost all of it is in the glaciers and on the tops of the mountains, or else flows in the depths of the earth.

We have found a unique spring of water, it comes out of the water layer that lies under the whole Latgale. The spring comes out in one of the nature reserves of Latvia. Our factory is located right next to a water spring, and the lowland slopes are part of the nature conservation biotopes of Europe, where unique herbs and flowers grow.

History

History

There has been a centuries-long dispute about the origins of whisky between Scotland and Ireland. Cold and rocky islands of these countries are not rich in fruits or vineyards, so the first Scottish and Irish whiskies were made of barley and both Scots and Irish claim to be the inventors of “acqua vitae”. Let’s travel many centuries back in time, to the mountains of Scotland. Manufacturing of whisky in Scotland was started by monks who made it for medical purposes. Scots had a strong belief in divine healing nature of «uisge beatha» and in 1505 the Guild of Barbers and Surgeons of Edinburgh were granted a monopoly for distilling in Scotland. Even now the most popular cold remedy in Scotland is not aspirin but rather a “toddy” – hot drink with whisky.

As it is known from historical records the method of distillation was adopted by Scottish and Irish from missionaries though they replaced grape wine with barley beer. The missionaries in turn learned of distillation from crusaders who have been to the Middle East. During first crusades the knights saw this method being used by Arabs and substituted grapes with what was available in northern countries, in particular, with barley which had been cultivated by locals since 3rd century BC. It is impossible to tell when whisky as we know it today first came to life. The first recorded mention of whisky dates back to 1406. Later, in 1494, the record in the Exchequer Rolls was made as follows: “To Friar John Cor, by order of the King, to make aqua vitae VIII bolls of malt”. And this happened almost two centuries after crusades.

Numerous papal calls to resume “holy wars” at the end of the 12th century resulted not only in the Fourth Crusade notorious for the Sack of Constantinople in 1204; in the same period several Northern Crusades were undertaken and in the long run they were more successful for Europeans than the wars in the south and east. Livonia before the outset of the Northern Crusades was an unstable outpost of the western civilization, the land of pagans where merchants of the Hanseatic League encountered with merchants from Novgorod.

The “Livonian Chronicle” (“Chronicon Livoniae”) was written by Henry of Latvia between 1225 and 1227 and provides a detailed description of conversion of Curonians, Livonians, Lettgallians and Estonians to Christianity occurred between 1183 and 1227. Chronicle consisted of four books describing contemporary historic events. The books were written before the visit of the papal legate William of Modena to Livonia and were intended as the presentation of successful catholic colonization of Baltic territories. The books also mention a huge number of water springs located on the right bank of the river Daugava suitable for drinking and making the Aqua Vitae – “the water of life”. This mention can serve as the evidence that knights who participated in the crusades in the Middle East brewed the beverage called Aqua Vitae few centuries earlier than the monks of Scotland.

The fourth book describes the events between 1208 and 1226 including the campaign to conquer the Principality of Jersika (Latin: Gerzika) with the biggest number of water springs which became the basis for making Aqua Vitae.

The fourth book of the Livonian Chronicle mentions Aqua Vitae which provided healing to the wounded and strength to the weak. It gives another evidence that even in those times knights made use of whisky during their campaigns. It is highly unlikely however that they brought the endless stock of Aqua Vitae with them which means that it was made from local water and raw materials. Latgale is the place where whisky was brewed as early as in the 12th century.

Unfortunately this tradition disappeared from these lands as the era of crusades came to its end.

Revival

Nowadays there exists a considerable variety of whisky recipes and it is impossible to tell the most correct or the truest of them. The only thing known for certain is the requirement for several trademark ingredients like barley and yeast. Yet the main role in defining the taste of the brewed whisky belongs to the local water and manufacturer’s passion for the process of brewing. And this is the reason behind our passion and perseverance while searching for the special water for our De Kriek whisky. We spent several years looking for the proper spring which would be connected to the water layer spread beneath the whole territory of Latgale. The spring is located in one of the first nature reserves of the modern Latvia where nature remained unchanged throughout the centuries with all its pristine and undisturbed essence from eight hundred years ago. Our factory is located right next to the water spring in Latgale, near the Gulbju Lake, in the area with the ever- changing climate and lowlands with unique vegetation included in the European protected habitats. In spring and summer the wind would bring fragrances of blossoming herbs all around the lake. We don’t use electricity and heating in our maturation warehouses and so everything what happens in nature and outside has its influence on everything what happens inside the barrel. Wind brought fragrances enwrap the barrels while fluctuation of humidity and temperature result in whisky “breathing” and acquiring new nuances.

Whisky De Kriek – brewed from the same water once used to make “uisge beatha”, “the water of life” which nourished and empowered the knights of the Middle Ages. Possibly the first whisky on Earth...

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