In 1989, Ludek Pala came to the United States from what was then Czechoslovakia. That meant leaving behind familiar faces and traditions, but he is now sharing a part of his heritage with others through the establishment of Moravian Sons Distillery.
“It was dad’s dream for the longest time,” says Jake Pala, who runs Moravian Sons Distillery with Ludek, his father.
Named for a region of the current Czech Republic — also called Czechia — the distillery makes unique fruit spirits similar to those Ludek enjoyed with family and friends before emigrating. People would go out at harvest time to collect excess fruit, let it ferment and then distill it. The resulting spirits were shared at meals and gatherings.
Now, residents of West Michigan can experience this piece of Czech culture for themselves as Moravian Sons Distillery is one of only two businesses in Michigan producing these spirits.
100% Michigan Made with Locally Sourced Ingredients
While many forms of alcohol contain corn, Moravian Sons makes a purely fruit spirit.
“Corn is cheaper,” Ludek notes, but his product is intended to take advantage of the bounty of local orchards and farms. “We pick up nice fruit and ferment it,” he explains.
The fermentation process takes about six weeks in temperature-controlled barrels, and then the result goes through the distiller for four hours. The alcohol that comes out of the still is a highly concentrated liquor that is about 160-proof. It is then diluted down to 90- to 96-proof for sale.
Fruit and cider for the spirits comes from local partners such as Hill Bros Orchards, High Acres Farms, Paul Rood Orchards, Mason Orchards and Paulson’s Pumpkin Patch. The sale of fruits to the distillery is a win-win for all involved since the spirits can be made from fruit that, while safe and edible, is not perfect enough to be sold directly to consumers.
“We make something completely different,” according to Jake. The Moravian Sons spirits are a pure fruit alcohol with no added sugar, making for what Jake describes as a “farm-to-bottle experience.”
Where to Buy Moravian Sons Fruit Spirits
Four varieties of fruit spirits are available from Moravian Sons Distillery:
“The plum is really unique,” Jake says. It is the distillery’s version of the traditional plum brandy — known as slivovitz — which is popular in the Czech Republic.
Traditionally, people drink slivovitz straight without any additions. However, fruit spirits can also be used in cocktails.
“It’s a great mixer because it has more body than vodka,” Jake notes.
You can try Moravian Sons fruit spirits in drinks mixed at restaurants such as Sneaker’s in Lowell, Candlestone Inn in Belding and Seasonal Grille in Hastings.
If you want to try mixing your own drinks, you can purchase bottles from the following area stores, among others:
- Parnell General Store
- Cannonsburg Bottle Shop
- Siciliano’s Market
- Grans Knappa Valley
- The Crushed Grape