Israel may not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of spirits, but this small Middle Eastern nation has a rich and diverse history of distilling and winemaking. From traditional anise-flavored Arak to award-winning single malt whiskies, Israel’s spirits are gaining recognition around the world. So, let’s raise a glass and celebrate Israel’s iconic spirits!
From Arak to Whisky: Iconic Flavors
One of Israel’s most famous spirits is Arak, a clear anise-flavored liqueur that has been distilled in the region for centuries. It’s usually served with water and ice, which turns the clear liquid into a cloudy white, and is a staple at Middle Eastern meals. But Israel’s distilling scene doesn’t stop at Arak. The country is also home to award-winning single malt whiskies, like the Golan Heights Distillery’s “Golan Heights Single Malt Whisky,” which won a gold medal at the 2020 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
A Nation of Distillers and Winemakers
Israel’s distilling and winemaking traditions go back thousands of years. In fact, the country has the oldest wine industry in the world, dating back to biblical times. Today, Israel is home to over 300 wineries and 25 distilleries, producing everything from wine and beer to vodka and brandy. Many of these wineries and distilleries are located in the country’s scenic countryside, making for a great day trip or weekend getaway.
Raise Your Glass to Israel’s History
Israel’s spirits industry is steeped in history and tradition. For example, the Carmel Winery, founded in 1882, is the country’s oldest winery and one of the most respected in the industry. Likewise, the Milk & Honey Distillery, founded in 2012, is the first whisky distillery in Israel and one of the few kosher whisky makers in the world. Tasting Israel’s spirits is like taking a sip of the country’s rich history.
Cocktails, Anyone? Mixology in Israel
Israel’s spirits are not only enjoyed straight up or on the rocks but also in creative cocktails. The country’s bartenders are known for their innovative and daring approach to mixology, using fresh ingredients and unique flavor combinations. Try the “Jerusalem Sour” made with whiskey, lemon juice, and red wine, or the “Sabrage” made with Arak, orange juice, and grenadine. Cheers to that!
Sip and Savor: Exploring Israel’s Distilleries
If you’re a spirits enthusiast, a visit to Israel’s distilleries is a must. You can tour the facilities, learn about the distillation process, and sample some of the best spirits in the country. Some of the top distilleries to visit include the aforementioned Milk & Honey Distillery and Golan Heights Distillery, as well as the Bazelet Hagolan Winery, which produces award-winning Israeli wines.
L’chaim to Israel’s iconic spirits! From Arak to whisky, Israel’s spirits offer a taste of the country’s rich history and culture. So, whether you’re a spirits enthusiast or just looking to try something new, make sure to raise a glass and say cheers to Israel’s world-class distillers and winemakers.