VIDEO INTERVIEW: Aleksandar Runchev, the Macedonian who made the best brandy in the world

Alexander Runchev
Aleksandar Runchev / Photo: Private gallery

Alexander Runchev is a technologist, a Macedonian who made the best brandy in the world last year. Runchev works at the Palić distillery, a sister company of the winery "Zvonko Bogdan" from Subotica. He is one of the successful Macedonians around the world who have won awards during their work.

This year, the Podrum Palić distillery, which works under his management, received three gold and two silver medals for the premium brandies it produces. In an interview with Utrinski Pechat on Slobodna TV, Runchev said that it is the most prestigious competition in the world that takes place in London.

- More than 40 countries participated with about 4.500 samples of brandy, gin, whiskey. Our premium brandy named "baraba" was awarded with 3 golds and two silvers. "Lozovacha" brandy won 99 points, which means the best brandy in the world for last year - says Runchev.

The winery "Zvonko Bogdan" and the cellar "Palic" are two sister companies whose trademark is the tambourine player Zvonko Bogdan. In addition to wine, they produce brandies from quince, viliamovka, plum vine and apricots, but they have a large portfolio, they make gin, amaro, pelinkovec, and the latest product is vodka.

- The contacts I had with colleagues from Serbia enabled me to come here after 10 years of work in Macedonia. I have been here since 2019, from the very start of the new basement. The distillery is owned by Palić in Subotica. Working conditions are excellent. I have free hands to work in terms of brandy production. I myself decide what and how it will be produced. It is good that it is a "premium production", I decide everything myself - says Runchev.

The distillery has modest conditions for Macedonian standards of 450.000 liters in stainless steel and 50.000 in barrels. They have their own plantations, 80 hectares of fruit and 65 hectares of vineyards.

- For now, there is not a single Macedonian working with me. I have two other employees with me, the whole process is automated and there is no need for many people. My tasks are from orchards to bottles, at every stage - says Runchev.

Tasting of the wines and the distillates they make can be done at the Zvonko Bogdan winery. There, visits and presentations of everything that is produced there are possible.

- Macedonians rarely come to the winery organized. There are individual tours. Zvonko Bogdan is their regular guest, at 9 in the morning and 6 in the afternoon he is always in the restaurants drinking coffee - says Runchev.

It takes almost 3 years to produce a premium brandy. The best brandy is the 2020 vintage.

– The distillate must be aged for two years, the vinaigrette for three years in barriques. For next year, I am announcing a vodka with Ukrainian-Russian technology that contains silver and platinum distillation - says Runchev.

In Macedonia, for the time being, there is no export of the premium products made by Runchev. The output price of wine from the Zvonko Bogdan winery is from 10 euros to 50 euros. For now, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, and Slovenia are exporting. The Chinese mostly drink vinaigrette.

- Our annual export is about 60.000 bottles. There is a plan to sell 100.000 bottles next year. The cost price is higher even in production itself. The cheapest "vine baraba" is 20 euros and ranges up to 35 euros viliamovka. Gin and quince are 10 euros. My working day is spent in quality control. I don't work overtime, five days a week from 7 to 3. Only during harvest is overtime worked - says Runchev.

He explains that he is not tied to a place where he works. It leaves room to maybe one day be part of the production of a Macedonian premium brand.

Watch the interview:

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