Know your Russian mineral waters: Боржоми, Ессентуки, Нарзан

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Technically only two out of the three waters listed in the title are “Russian” – Borzhomi is found and bottled in the Georgian part of the Caucasus mountain range.

But let’s begin in the beginning.

Peter the Great was the first to bring the fascination with mineral waters into Russia. And Caucases became the key region for Russian mineral waters, with the center in the city named after them – Минеральные воды. The region includes

Main cities in the mineral waters region: Минеральные воды, Кисловодск, Ессентуки и Пятигорск

Mineral Waters in the Caucasus region

Mineral waters in Russia

Yet it was almost two hundred years later in 1894, that Narzan was bottled  on a mass scale in a factory near Pyatigorsk. The whole region is replete with resorts where you can drink water, get mineral water baths and other types of treatment, as well as breath fresh mountain air.

Фотографии района Минеральных вод 

It is estimated that it takes a drop of water six years to get from a melting ice cap through the mountain to the Narzan mineral water stream.

Narzan

Here is what people say about Narzan in an unofficial web-siteStrong crisp taste.
Have a pleasant aftertaste. Overall very good refreshing and easy on stomach; Very crisp and clear taste. Excellent water.

Another amazing thing about Narzan is that its birthplace – the spa region of Pyatigorsk was a setting for one of the most popular Classic Russian novels  – Mikhail Lermontov’s The Hero of Our Time (Герой нашего времени). Selfish Pechorin – the protagonist of the novel – is stationed in the spas region and it is there that he meets his old acquaintance Grushnitskii, infatuates princess Mary – the woman Grushnitskii likes, and in a resulting duel kills him. This episode is believed to be prophetic, as 27-year-old Lermontov himself was shot in a duel at the foot of Mashuk mountain in Pyatigorsk.

Certainly, Narzan is not the only mineral water in the region. In neighbouring Yessentuki one can try over twenty varieties of mineral water (that varies by its chemical content). All of them are available all over Russia and can also be bught in American “Russian” stores. Reviews differ, but all of them are worth trying, if at least once to find out what one likes. 

Боржоми

Best Drinking Medicinal Radioactive Water

(Over a million bottles a day was produced in Borjomi in Brezhnev time – late 1960s -1970s)

Borzhomi is found and bottled in Georgia, and one can no longer find it in Russia, as it was declared unsanitary two years before the 8-day Russia-Georgia conflict over South Ossetia.

Bottled in the town of the same name located in a spectacular place in the mountains 

Rediscovered in the 19th century Borjomi is a popular tourist destination in Georgia. If Narzan is a setting for a novel, Borzhomi is mentioned in a saying Поздно пить Боржоми – почки уже сели (spoilt)

Drinking Mineral water is a part of Russian culture – it is believed to be a good remedy for the morning after the night before (minerals!), a component for marinading the meat for the Russian-style barbeque (шашлык), and a part of the literary heritage (Lermontov) and folklore.

These three are just the top of the long list of sparkling mineral waters of the world. Many types of water come from the countries in the Carpathian mountains region and the Alps region – Czech republic, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Ukraine, Poland and other countries all over the world including the United States.

So, give mineral water a try, and write about your impressions here.

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