Georgia Beyond the Popular Routes, v.1: German Heritage + Georgian Whiskey

Georgia Beyond the Popular Routes, v.1: German Heritage + Georgian Whiskey

When I started this website years ago, the articles about Tbilisi backstreets, prices for sulfur baths, or trips to Batumi were quite a rare thing. Now, as I’m hunting the content for the official facebook page of Georgia’s tourism, I stumble upon zillions of articles from world famous and little regional media that tell about (oh wow!) walks in Old Tbilisi or bicycle lanes of Batumi.

So, my friends, if you are still reading it, you’re going to encounter a couple of places that you might have never heard about. Or at least, they were not in your list of Georgian highlights together with Kazbegi, Mestia and Kakheti (whatever it might mean, because Kakheti is big). I will prepare a series of 4-5 posts, so feel free to read, get inspired, travel and spread the information.

Fasten your seatbelts! The roads are not always perfect there…

Part 1. German Heritage + Georgian Whiskey

German colonies in Georgia? Whiskey production in Georgia? In Georgia, Caucasus?

YES.200 years ago, in 1817-1818, several German families have moved to Georgia after getting the incentives from Alexander I of Russia. Contemporary settlements don’t have the German component, but if you are interested, Sartichala used to be called Marienfeld, a part of Aghmashenebeli avenue in Tbilisi was Neu-Tiflis, the area around Expo Georgia – Alexandersdorf, Bolnisi – Katharinenfeld, and Asureti – Elisabethtal.

(By the way, in 3 km from Tetritskaro, there is an ancient village Samshvilde that was inhabited between I century BC and XVIII century AD. It’s not overadvertised, so you can still be the one who will enjoy the solitude on a very powerful historical spot…)

While driving on riding a marshrutka towards Tetritskaro and passing by Asureti, you will notice the old houses that resemble to German Fachwerkhäuser, but are not very well kept. Also, in Asureti, there is an abandoned German wine factory, and the local grape sort Asuretuli used to be called Schalla after the German who lived there in the XIX century and discovered that semi-wild sort of grape.Bolnisi, the home of the first scriptures in Georgian language and one of the oldest churches in the country, is also a home to several German houses and a windmill. So if you are really interested in this part of Georgian history, Bolnisi is worth a visit. Maybe the visit can be combined with a little hike in Birtvisi Canyon that is not long, but picturesque.

View from one of the hills near Bolnisi

But what about whiskey? Happy to tell you about one of my recent discoveries, Alexander Distillery from this region. Light wine from Asuretuli grapes, sharbati, a drink prepared according to old recipe rooted in Persian era; mild, flavourful chacha and local whiskey – all of them very unique!

Alexander and his wife Nia are the loveliest couple that works on their production together. Nia got a great education in Physiology in Moscow, good job and everything possible, but her artistic talent was impossible to constrain, so now one of her tasks is creation of unique labels for their wine, Asuretuli.
Alexander is a big fan and connoisseur of whiskey, so he has adapted the international process to the Georgian reality, so the triple distillation of his whiskey is going on in qvevri. He also produces all the necessary ingredients by himself.

We really enjoyed staying in their house in Alekseevka village. Apple trees, hammocks, cozy living room, delicious family dinner, warm welcome and a good load of less known historical sights around – God, that was a great trip! How to get there? Agree about the meeting, then go to Tetritskaro with a minibus, and give Alexander a call, once you are there.

About Dariko

Born in Ukraine, now Tbilisi-based. Love seeing new places.