The Aussie spirit you’ve never heard of (but have to try)

Have you heard of rakija? A Sydney distillery has created the world’s best version of the spirit, which is made from fermented shiraz grapes.

DNA Distillery, co-founded by cousins James Projcevski and Monique Sutevski, has taken out Double Gold for its Golden Rakija at the 2023 World Spirits Competition following its Rakija winning Double Gold at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

Winning Double Gold meaning all members on the judging panel chose the DNA Distillery Gold Rakija as the number one spirit in a blind tasting.  The distillery was also awarded silver medals for its Classic and Pear Rakija. 

The spirit is popular in the Balkan and Slavic regions of Eastern Europe. DNA Distillery uses chemical-free, organic, hand-picked Australian shiraz grapes, which are double-distilled in small batches to create its rakija (pronounced ra-ki-ya). The result is a spirit that the judges describe as being “floral with a hint of wet stone minerality. herbal and fruity on the pallet with a hint of bitterness. Long, sweet finish with lingering herbal and fruit notes.”

The cousins are first-generation Macedonian-Australians who come from a lineage of five generations of rakija distillers.

“DNA Distillery is the legacy of our ancestors; a tradition passed down from generation to generation, from Europe to Australia,” James said.

“Our Dedo’s recipe was so famous in the village that people would travel by foot for the chance to taste it.’

As for winning their Double Gold awards, the pair said it fills them with immense pride in representing both the Australian spirits industry and also their family recipe.

“At DNA Distillery, our passion for Rakija runs deep,” Monique said. “We believe that Rakija is more than just a drink—it’s a celebration of tradition, heritage, and the art of distillation. This ancient spirit, deeply rooted in our Balkan heritage, holds a special place in our hearts, and we are driven to share its beauty with the world.”

“The Double Gold award serves as a testament to the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into each bottle of DNA Distillery’s Rakija,” James added.

“It signifies that our spirits have not only been recognised by esteemed industry experts but have also managed to impress every judge on the blind-tasting panel. This achievement reinforces our unwavering commitment to excellence, quality, and pushing the boundaries of what Rakija can offer.”

Golden Rakja is available from the DNA Distillery website:

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Categories: Lifestyle