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Vodka distillation and tasting master class

Vodka distillation and tasting master class image

The outdoor patio at the family-owned guesthouse. (Photo by Karen Nersisyan, My Armenia Program)

Under the Walnut Tree is a family-owned guesthouse, food experience, and restaurant in the city of Yeghegnadzor, Vayots Dzor. Here you can learn more about Armenian traditions, including a demonstration of distilling homemade vodka and then tasting some flavorful samples.

Lilit and Abraham, the founders of Under the Walnut Tree, will introduce you to the history of the guesthouse and restaurant. Their family has been hosting visitors for more than twenty years, beginning when their grandfather, who worked in the construction industry, began receiving business partners from abroad. They introduced their guests to Armenian culture by baking lavash and gata and involving them in daily tasks, such as feeding their livestock and tending to the garden.

Under the Walnut Tree’s vodka comes from grapes, plums, apples, apricots, pears, and/or berries. Abraham will explain the entire distilling process, from harvesting the fruit to the first drops of distilled vodka. Vodka distillation is still a widespread practice in many Armenian households. Nearly every home has a zavod (distilling equipment), or at least can borrow the equipment from their relatives or neighbors. Because the distillation process takes several days, you are not able to distill your own vodka from start to finish; however, you can get a taste of the steps and of some finished products with experienced vodka-makers.

Visitors may also explore the guesthouse property, sit down for a lunch, or take a gata (sweet cake) cooking class with Lilit and Abraham.

Meet your hosts

Hospitality is of the utmost importance in Armenia. Khalatyan's family has been hosting visitors for more than twenty years and this family tradition is now carried on by Lilit Khalatyan, who built Under the Walnut Tree on the foundation of her family's hospitality for sharing Armenian culture with international visitors.

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