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Sunday, 14 February 2016

Did You Know That Italian Vodka Brand "Keglevich Vodka" Was Named After A 19th Century Croatian Count?







Italian vodka brand "Keglevich vodka" and related flavoured vodkas today. Not many people probably know though that it's named after the 19th century Croatian Count Stephan Keglevich.






Well, it's Sunday around here and as i've already mentioned a number of times previously, it's mainly various ethnic programs and of course televangelists doing their incessant and eternal bullshit nonsense shtick on tv, so I thought it would be a perfect time to do a quirky and amusing post, yet something interesting and informative also. It's actually more Italian related come to think of it, but it's also Croatian related too. And vodka related on top of that...you'll see what I mean as you read on.

Anyway, so I was in the middle of something else entirely, and I just by chance came across this. I probably would have posted about this earlier, but I already went through my vodka stage while in the military and for a time after leaving. These days I hardly ever even go the liquor store and usually get someone to go for me if I do need something there. (I don't particularly enjoy the line ups and other things there) And I've never drank vodka in Italy yet either, so that would probably also partly explain.





See video added below for proper pronunciation. Image: www.flickr.com




As for this interesting piece of trivia, in a nutshell this Keglevich vodka is an Italian vodka brand, and from what I found out a very popular one and actually an award winning best seller in Italy. It's also marketed elsewhere in Europe, Russia, USA, Israel and Japan. On top of that, based on the look of the label, logo and the name, I think probably many people who aren't acquainted with surname history might mistakenly think it's a Russian vodka, perhaps thinking it's named after some Russian aristocrat, prince or other baron or vodka purveyor. But it's not, it's not a Ukrainian or Belarusian vodka either, or even a German, Polish, Swedish, Finnish or other vodka for that matter either. It definitely is an Italian vodka though and that's not in question

Also, the logo is not a double headed Russian eagle like some may suppose and therefore think it's a Russian inspired vodka. It's actually the Holy Roman Empire double headed eagle, which was also used during the times that the Croatian crown lands were a part of Austria-Hungary and the Habsburg crown. (It was even used as a coat of arms and shield of Otto IV already in the 12th century and the Oksoko was used by the Seljuk Turko-Persian empire before that) and by numerous other rulers as coats of arms versions through the centuries. This exact more common imperial black eagle version was even used as part of the Imperial coat of arms of Austria-Hungary at the exact time that Count Keglevich was making his first batch of topnotch vodka, so that would only make sense. But that's just supplementary information and not the reason or point of this post either.





Vodka trivia: The name "vodka" is a diminutive form of the Slavic word voda (water), interpreted as little water: root (vod-) [water] + -к- (-k-) (diminutive suffix, among other functions) + -a (postfix of feminine gender), and the word "vodka" was recorded for the first time in 1405 in Akta Grodzkie, the court documents from the Palatinate of Sandomierz in Poland.




However, the most interesting part and primary reason for this post is about the name of the vodka, because the vodka brand is actually named after one of the Croatian noble lines, that being a member of the famous House of Keglević. (Yes that's right folks, that same noble family that the Keglevich Palace in Bratislava, Slovakia is named after, and that's also where Countess Anna Louise Barbara Keglevich even had private piano lessons by Ludvig Van Beethoven)

Actually and specifically the vodka is named after the Count Stephan Keglevich who is credited with the original recipe of this vodka in 1882. Being one of the numerous Croatian nobles within Austria-Hungary through he centuries. (from 1527 and from 1102 before that) Stephan Keglevich associated with many barons, princes, aristocrats, dukes, counts and countesses, and even Czars and Kings and Queens, Emperors and Empresses, so he decided to distill a special vodka that he knew they would probably like, the inside vodka making scoop so to speak.

Perhaps the emperor or empress said something like "Oh hey there Count Keglevich, I must say this vodka tastes like polluted camel piss!, I do wish someone would come along and distill some topnotch fine tasting vodka for once, because frankly this vodka tastes shitty and is liquid drivel and an affront to my palate, I do believe it's good for only washing socks in or polishing silverware and cleaning latrines, something must be done." (Many of the Croatian nobles and aristocrats through the centuries were not only Croatian Bans (a Croatian word for Viceroys/Governors pronounced like Bahn) and political leaders, but also military leaders in charge of Croatian and Hungarian armies in Croatia and elsewhere, as well as upper nobles and high-officers of the realm, judges, barons and magistrates of the free royal cities also. So they probably knew the importance of fine tasting vodka and liquors for the various masquerade balls, ceremonies and other various royal and aristocratic shindigs, or even just for the local pub or tavern. (After all, even the peasants and non-nobles and non-royalty are people too, deserving of fine tasting vodka to drink as well)





The label of a bottle of Keglevich vodka from 1960. At the bottom of the label it is written "...according to the original recipe of Count Stephan Keglevich." This would make him sort of like the Colonel Sanders of vodka in Italy. Image: www.okazii.ro




That's about it regarding this topic, so what have you learned? Basically, that these days the well known and popular Italian "Keglevich vodka" is also known for flavoured vodkas, however the history of Keglevich vodka actually dates back to 1882 when it started being produced in Trieste, which was at that time a part of Austria-Hungary, hence the logo. Also that it's based on the vodka distilling recipe of the Croatian Count Stephan Keglevich. There should be no confusion now as to whether it's a Russian, Polish, Ukrainian or any other vodka next time you order it. (Obviously his name isn't spelled using the Croatian alphabet, but in what today is termed an Anglicized form, used also in German and Italian, but it's pronounced the same and same sound and isn''t an issue) Perhaps a little unplanned for extra history lesson thrown in, and it's not all that important or earth shattering either, but the truth must be told. (History can be so interesting sometimes, and historical) At the end of the day it's an Italian vodka named after a 19th century Croatian Count. 3 Cheers to the Count Keglevich!!! Hip hip hooray and all that stuff.

(If you found this piece interesting, you may want to check out a post from a couple weeks about the noble Nikola Zrinski or  croatiansurnameshistory.blogspot.ca for more information)




Related: www.keglevich.co.uk

www.instagram.com/keglevichuk/

wikipedia.org/wiki/Keglevich_vodka

wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Keglević




How to pronounce "Vodka Keglevich" next time you're in Italy or wherever. (very important) After all, if you're in Italy and you want to order it, you have to know how to say it in Italian.




I think the Croatian Count Keglevich would be very happy if he was alive today. Knowing that he has an award winning Italian vodka named after him rather than a disease, plant/fungus or insect would probably be nothing to complain about. (It almost seems like "Keglevich Vodka" is synonymous with "Happy Hour" in Italy)





Bonus information for the benefit of the reader, a Count Istvan Keglevich who was also a Croatian noble and aristocrat within Austria-Hungary around the same time, started the Count Keglevich Cognac Factory in Budapest, Hungary in 1882. Below is a poster from the late 1920's, coincidentally around the time of prohibition in the USA. Image: budapestposter.com






After finishing this post, I realized that I've done a few Croatian beer topic posts in the past, and just barely touched upon wines, but never anything about the numerous other Croatian liquors and liqueurs. We produce and drink vodka in Croatia, Zvečevo Sedona vodkaMaraska Cosmopolitan vodka and Badel Vigor Classic vodka being just a few examples, but vodka is not the number one go to first and foremost alcohol to drink in Croatia, or a major alcohol drink export. There's plenty to choose from, so I'll have to do a post about this important topic in the future.



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