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Daruvar’s Wise Grus has just won two gold medals at the Spirit Trophy in Frankfurt

Last Tuesday around noon, we plunged our noses into Wise Grus’ apricot brandy. It smells like a lively, sweet July summer apricot. The scents and flavors of apricots in Wise Grus’ apricot brandy reminded us of the apricot brandy of the famous Austrian distiller Alois Gölles, whose main motto is: “There should be nothing in my fruit brandies except fruit” – writes

“We dipped our nose into Wise Grus apricot brandy around noon last Tuesday. It smells like a lively, sweet July apricot. The scents and flavors of apricots in Wise Grus apricot brandy reminded us of the apricot brandy of the great Austrian distiller Alois Gölles, whose main motto is “There should be nothing in my fruit brandies but fruit” – writes

“We buy apricots in Aljmaš, pears in the Varaždin area, and plums in Kordun. All the fruit for our distillates comes from Croatia,” proudly told us Goran Kovačić, one of the founders of Wise Grus, one of the most ambitious Croatian distilleries. Mr. Kovačić called us four days after our visit to the family estate in Ivanovo Polje, a suburb of Daruvar, a city known for its cranes (grus in Latin means crane).

“We won two golds and a silver at the competition in Frankfurt,” Kovačić informed us joyfully. This is more than a good result for a debut distillery that sent its brandies to San Francisco and now eagerly awaits the results from the most influential global spirits competition, which, among others, made Zagreb’s Old Pilots famous and established.

Apricot brandy, full of lively apricot scents, which we really liked, did not win a medal in Frankfurt, however. Dunja and Lozovača won gold medals at the Frankfurt Spirit Trophy, while Šljivovica won silver. This means that Wise Grus produces even better brandies than the one that charmed us with the scents of ripe yellow fruit. Why do we emphasize the scents of lively, fresh, ripe apricots? Because many Croatian (and Serbian and Slovenian) distilleries use artificial fruit flavors instead of real fruit, so their distillates have roughly the same value as truffle oil. And Wise Grus, it seems, uses only real, ripe fruit.

Moreover, before winning medals in Frankfurt, Wise Grus won a handful of awards at a regional competition held in Zagreb. Wise Grus was created almost recently, about two years ago. Goran Kovačić, a youthful middle-aged man with a successful career in financial business, and his wife Dora, a banker, decided to invest money in a business they can run in Daruvar, where Kovačić’s parents live.”

Founders of Wise Grus are Goran and Dora Kovačić

The Kovačić family has established an extremely thoughtful business model, which involves three essential elements. First, they use top-quality basic raw materials from Croatia; hence, we speak of apricots from Aljmaš, plums from Kordun, and pears from the Varaždin region. Second, they have a high-end branding and design, handled by the Brandz agency. Wise Grus’s labels and bottles do not look like traditional bottles for brandy. On the contrary, they look completely different. Third, the Kovačić family has invested in top-notch technology, including German copper stills, which are among the best and most expensive in the business.

Fermentation, on the other hand, is carried out in large tanks with controlled temperatures to preserve as much primary fruit aroma as possible. Finally, part of the aging process of the distillate takes place in barrique barrels, in a special distillery room in Daruvar. Wise Grus is a serious project. Not only because it has already entered a series of serious addresses such as Esplanadin Bar, but because it is professional, not hobbyist. The owners plan to produce about 200 thousand liters of brandy annually. Prices are not low, but top-notch spirits don’t have to be cheap. Wise Grus plans to build a new, significantly larger distillery with a tasting room, which could revive tourism in this part of Western Slavonia, where only Daruvar spas exist. Wise Grus is an exemplary model of thoughtful business approach to the production of top-quality spirits.

Together with Magdić, Veriga, or Jedna, Wise Grus leads the new generation of Croatian continental distillers who should join forces and perform together, just like Istrian winemakers. If it were not for Vinistra, Istrian wines would not dominate Croatia today. The new, modern, and anti-tavern approach to brandy promoted by Daruvar’s Wise Grus is among the strategic prerequisites for the development of the future Croatian distillery industry.

Source: Kult Plave Kamenice