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History of Fine Drinks in Estonia

Spirit production in Estonia has a history of over 500 years. Distilling was actually the main production line in Estonian manors for over an entire century. By the end of 18th century 85% of Estonian manors could boast their own distillery supplying alcohol to pubs all over the Russian Empire.

It became very much en vogue to prepare different kinds of infusions as nastoiki, liquors and nalewki using the vodka distilled on the premises. It was mostly the domain of the Madame of the mansion. The recipes of those fine beverages called ’brewed vodkas’ were kept secret and served with to guests on special occasions..

Later, in the course of the 19th century, small distilleries specialising in producing fine drinks of blended vodkas or liquors opened all over Estonia – the town of Tartu solely boasted 16 different schnapps and liquor manufactures in 1860s. By the end of the century the number of manufacture decreased dramatically – in 1899 only 13 of them still existed in Estonia.

The recipes were kept as business secrets, thus not much is known about what sort of beverages were produced. What we know is that in addition to sugar, different kinds of herbs, spices and essences were used. The most popular beverages were nastoiki and nalewki –hinting at the Russian influence.

According to historical records, the first known enthusiast of blended nalewki was Hippocrates who would prepare blended wine; adding honey and different herbs. In the same way, in Early Middle Ages these kinds of infusions were considered to be medication. It was later in the course of following centuries that such beverages were consumed also for their taste and other pleasant qualities.


Põhjaka Distillery is among the first few certified small craft distilleries of the re-independent Estonian Republic.

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Põhjaka mõis, Mäeküla 72604, Paide vald, Järvamaa