Vodkas from the Baltic Countries
THE BALTIC COUNTRIES
The three Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, were long dominated by foreign powers, from the Teutonic Knights to Sweden, Germany, and the Soviet Union, preventing them from developing specific types of spirits or vodka. A state distillery founded in 1900 in Latvia made a range of vodkas, mostly from potatoes, but it was nationalized by the Soviets after the annexation of the Baltic countries in 1940.
Since independence in 1991, after the fall of Soviet communism, the manufacture of spirits has started up again in the Baltic countries.
In Estonia, Liviko Distilleries in Tallinn produces several types of vodka. Eesti Viin, with thirty-eight percent alcohol, is smooth, sweet, and highly aromatic. Viru Valge, made of grain and enriched with sugar during bottling, has forty percent alcohol. Monopole is made by the Remedia group and contains 37.5 percent alcohol.
In Latvia, most production is controlled by a once-nationalized company, which has been partially privatized since. It makes several types of high-quality schnapps, the preferred alcoholic drink of the Latvians, as well as several brands of grain-based vodkas: Kristal Dzidrais, Rigas Originalais, Zelta, Favorits, Rigalya, and Monopols. The latter two claim to rival the best international vodkas in terms of purity and quality.