Food & Beverage

Nov 30, 2015

Riga Balsam to the Soul

Let's go back to the 18th century, the year of 1789. While her stay in Latvia, the Russian empress Ekaterina II got sick. It was a modest Riga apothecary Abraham Kunce that managed to cure the painful colic of the monarchic person. He had made a marvelous beverage for her, based on medicinal herbs and vodka by the 17th century recipe. Ekaterina II acknowledged the healing merits of the "Balsam of Kunce" and granted Abraham with the privilege for its manufacturing. Those days this 16% medicinal balsam consisted of aromatic water, alcohol, tincture of flowers, buds, herbs and cinnamon bark. This potion was called "Riga Kunce".


In 1847 the industrialist Albert Volfsmitt had founded a factory for balsam manufacturing. The recipe of the beverage, now more sophisticated, was kept secret, while its strength has risen up to 45˚. Since then and up to the World War II, the recipe was kept secret by the members of the Schreder dynasty who worked at the factory. In 1939 they left for Germany without having sold the precious secret not even to the factory owner.

The lost recipe was recovered only in 1950. The manufacturing started at the Riga factory of liquor-vodka beverages (today's Latvijas Balzams).

 Since 1860 till 1935 the Riga Balsam had won 33 golden and silver medals at the international expositions; at the Moscow exposition "Prodexpo-2006" it was awarded the Gran-Prize.

Today the Riga Balsam is considered one of the visit-cards of Latvia. Its glory extends far away from the boarders of the country, and tourists would certainly bring a famous ceramic bottle home as a souvenir from Riga.

The Riga Balsam is a thick strong spirit of dark colour with unmistakable tart taste of the bitters' family. The highest quality ingredients only are used for the production of the beverage, some of the ingredients grow only in certain parts of Latvia. Although the ingredients are known since ever, their proportions in the Balsam are kept secret, - this is known only by a few technicians of «Latvijas balzams», enterprise where the Balsam is being manufactured.

The know-how of the manufacturing process is also unique – the ingredients are collocated by the definite order into the oak barrels, made by a special technology without usage of glue. The beverage is infused there during one month; after that it gains the recognizable bitterness. Then the Balsam is bottled into the special ceramic bottles where it continues infuse for not less than half a year.

The healing properties of the Riga Balsam are witnessed by generations of people who used to consume this beverage as a medicine. For therapeutic purposes, the dose should not exceed 30 ml per day.

The legendary Balsam is manufactured by JSC Latvijas balzams, the leading manufacturer of spirits in the Baltic countries, the enterprise with history rich with traditions, starting its count down in the year of 1900. The company owns two factories of alcoholic drinks in Riga: manufacture of low alcoholic drinks and sparkling wines, and manufacture of strong alcoholic drinks.  JSC Latvijas balzams ensures 600 working places.

to take pace with the demands of the market is represented practically in all segments of strong and low alcoholic beverages with more than 100 items. Apart from the other produce, today JSC Latvijas balzams manufactures 4 types of balsams: Riga Black Balsam, Riga Black Balsam Element, Riga Black Currant Balsam, and Riga Black Balsam Cream.

The Balsam is being exported to more than 30 countries all over the world; of the total exports Russia takes 64%, countries of the former USSR – 30%. Every year new export markets are being developed. The enterprise makes regular investments into its development to satisfy its clients in a better way, as well as to keep pace with the demands of the market.

The everyday manufacturing practice is enriched by the high and unbreakable quality standards, which are followed while raw materials purchasing, wrappings and labour culture. The JSC Latvijas balzams quality management system is certified in accordance with the ISO standards.

The enterprise is one of the biggest tax-payers of the country, as well as it is a stable employer who takes care of its employees' wellness, professional growth and safety.

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