World’s oldest alcoholic drink, Lithuanian Mead, returning to India.

VILNIUS, LITHUANIA: The world’s oldest alcoholic drink – the recipe of which finds mention in the ancient Indian text Rig Veda 6000 years ago, is now making its way back to its country of birth – India.

A Lithuanian company that holds the patent of Madhu Madya (honey alcohol) – the world famous mead made with ayurvedic traditions, has now decided to make it available in India.

The Indian Baltic Chamber of Commerce has launched the mead – the oldest fermented drink in the world made from honey, water, yeast, herbs and vegetable seasoning at the annual event in India’s culinary calendar – the Fine Food Exhibition at Pragati Maidan in Delhi on December 10.

IBCC hopes to rope in distributors for the drink to make an official entry into the Indian market early 2014.
Speaking to TOI, IBCC president Gediminas Citukas said “A Lithuanian company holds the patent for this unique drink whose roots can be traced back to India. They produce 200,000 litres of it annually and require 100 tonnes of honey for its production. The drink’s low alcoholic content and unique sweet taste is bound to be a hit with Indians”.

In Lithuania, the mead has been declared a national heritage product.

Historical records show that on September 30, 1969, Queen Elizabeth II granted the Stakliskes factory Lietuviskas Midus with the patent number 1280830 making it the sole producer of this drink.

No formulations have survived of the old Lithuanian mead, produced several hundred years ago, but it is believed that in those times, water and honey solution were heated with spices (thyme, ginger, lemon, cinnamon, cherries, wild strawberries, blackberries, lime buds, juniper berries and sometimes hops) before the solution was filtered and fermented using beer or wine yeast. The base for the production of this drink is natural bee honey.

At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries, mead was almost no longer produced, thanks to beekeeping suffering a serious crisis.

In the 20th century, the interest for Lithuanian mead production saw a sudden revival.

This drink with added vitamins is now made from honey, hops, lime flowers, juniper berries and other vitamin C-containing additives, aged for at least 18 months.

“In 2002, Stakliskes mead was given the status of Culinary Heritage in Lithuania. We are looking for distributors in India. We will launch the drink in Delhi on December 10 at the Fine Food exhibition,” Citukas added.

- Courtesy of Times of India