Originally published 8/25/2018
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Rudolf Jelinek Brandy Factory in Vizovice, Czechia
The main attraction to visit in the town of Vizovice, Czechia is the Rudolf Jelinek brandy factory. This town lies in a valley and upon entering it looks much like you would expect from a grape-growing vineyard area similar in feel to Italy or California. However, you won’t see grapevines. Instead, Vizovice is a plum producing town making it the capital of Plum Brandy first started in the late 1800s. The brand is called Slivovitz (the Czech word for plums) and is famous around the world. Here you can go take a tour of the distillery, watch how Brandy and Whiskey are made, and taste a variety of flavored brandy you might not ever have imagined trying. I know because I tried several flavors since I was on an adventure.
As we drove onto the vast orchard grounds we stopped in the midst of acres of beautiful plum trees and plucked a few right off to taste! Sweet and delicious fresh blue-purple plums now made me curious as to how the brandy would taste.
Variety of Brandy Flavors
After a brief introduction film we were given shot glasses to try the famous brandy. Whew! It was almost 100 degrees outside, so we were already hot and thirsty, but this isn’t something you want to chug down in the heat. Sips were just fine.
Select Gold Cock Whiskey produced by Jelinek factory
We were given a private tour of the Whiskey distillery and shown 100 lockers in a room that are held by private members of the Jelinek club. It is rumored that the 100th locker is owned by former President, Vaclav Havel. There was a special story as to how the name of the whiskey came about but I will leave it to you to find out when you visit there.
A Quiet Town Named Holesov
After we got our afternoon taste, we headed off to the nearby town of Holesov. It’s located on the boundary lines of Hana and Wallachia, trade routes from medieval times. Stopping at Holesov Chateau (Castle) we viewed the expansive, yet peaceful and serene gardens of this ancient castle.
Historical Jewish Orthodox Quarter
Around the corner from the Holesov Chateau is one of the oldest Jewish Orthodox Synagogue and Cemeteries. While other Jewish buildings in Holesov were destroyed during WWII, this building stayed untouched due to what some believed was the Rabbi Shach influence.
We were there when a bus of American-Jewish people were holding a special service. Thus, we were not allowed to enter until they left. But we were given a behind-the-scenes look at the room of the Rabbi Shach complete with ancient Torahs and manuscripts. The ceiling had the original decorative painting on it still from the 16th century. Amazing!
The small church itself was a sight to behold with its ancient decorations on an arched entryway. Walking across the street to the cemetery we were amazed at how old some of the tombstones looked to be. It was hard to tell since most were written in the Czech language or in Hebrew. There are around 1500 graves here. This cemetery was built in the mid-15th century and survived through the holocaust despite the Nazi occupation and the killing of 253 Jews in this city alone. Rabbi Sach is entombed here. We didn’t get photos as there was a ceremony taking place but it was amazing to see this piece of important history has been kept alive and is still used to this day.
You can easily find these small towns when touring around eastern Czechia, whether by car or train. A visit to these historical sites is well worth learning about the history.