Akmeņlauzis (Stone Wall) is the pride of Latvia, a small craft distillery located in a 17th-century wine cellar in the Old Town of Riga. The company manufactures its products by scratch, using barley grown in eastern Latvia as a raw material. The basis for many of their flavored spirits is kandža (moonshine), which is distilled several times from wort made from malted barley.
Moonshine is a bit of a wrong word here, because it is nowadays usually made from sugar, which is a much easier process than what it takes to make it from barley. It should be mentioned that Latvia has such a long tradition in the production of moonshine that they have different names for it. Kandža is used in the west and north, while in eastern Latvia it is called šmakovka. Russian speakers call it samogón, which is a traditional Russian moonshine made specifically from grain.
Akmeņlauzis distills the kandža to 65-70% strength, after which it is diluted with water to 40% bottling strength. This leaves more grain flavor in the drink, compared to vodka, which must be made with a 96% ABV rectified spirit. Baltais means white, in this case a clear spirit. The company also uses its own kandža as a basis for a number of different flavored spirits. These include horseradish, cranberry and sea buckthorn flavored drinks among many others. Akmeņlauzis products are sold quite extensively throughout Latvia, however, mostly on special alcohol stores. They are hardly found in ordinary grocery stores. A 50 cl bottle of kandža costs about € 13.
The aroma is very smooth, slightly sweet and pleasantly grainy. The taste is amazingly soft, sweet, grainy and it has almost no burn at all. The taste has a light taste of wort which is just a great detail to show from which raw material the spirit has been made. It has so much sweetness that a little sugar may have been added before bottling. At least the manufacturer does not deny this on its website. Is amazing how low burn it has, even that is normal 40% ABV strong. The taste is very clean, the aftertaste leaves a pleasantly smooth and sweet grainy tinge.
Akmeņlauzis kandža is an excellent moonshine. Kandža is perfect for a cold shot on the dining table. I would never waste it for the mixing drinks. The professionalism of Akmeņlauzis and other manufacturers makes Latvia the most skilled moonshine country in the Baltics or perhaps in whole Europe. I recommend to try those when you sometimes visit Latvia.