TRADITIONAL PRODUCTION OF THE BULGARIAN ROSE ATTAR
The German researcher Gabriele Tergit reports that distillation of rose attar in Bulgaria started in 1680, when a Turkishman brought the gyulap cauldron. We could accept this as truth, if it concerns double distillation. But it is well known that in 1650 the rose water was an important stock article at the Edirne market, and was produced in the inner European provinces - Kazanlak, Stara Zagora and Karlovo.
Thanks to the gained experience during the centuries in the brandy production the Bulgarian rose-producers developed the process of rose production by the means of double distillation. On that way the quantity of the extracted product was increased, keeping the fin fragrance and unique qualities of the rose attar.
The primitive rose-distilleries - gyulpanas were built near the rivers. Fireplaces were built for one, three, five or more cauldrons; shelter was prepared with beams and Turkish tiles. The wealthy rose-merchants Dimitro Papazoglu, Kancho Shipkov, Hristo Hristov built gyulpanas with twenty and more cauldrons. In different places were used different numbers gyulap cauldrons. In Golyamo Dryanovo - Kazanlak Hristo Bazirgyanov used six cauldrons, Kosyo Ivanov - three, Kolyo Drakov - one, Lalyo Lankov - four, Gluharovi brothers - 4, etc. In Turiya the gyulpanas were built near the Turiiska River, in Enina near the Old River, and in Aleksandrovo near the Tundzha River. Sometimes the wild rivers broke the gyulpanas and made additional work for the rose-producers. If the river banquets were high wheels for raising the water to gyulpanas were used.
The traditional Bulgarian gyulap cauldron consisted of two parts -cauldron and lid. The cauldron had four handles: two upper and two down, which served to bring it down the fire. The cauldron body was in the shape of frustum of a cone, in which was laid the lid. The last was bigger than the French and the Indian one and on this way was improved the water vapour gathering, which were brought to the cooling barrel falling under 45°. And that was the difference between the gyulap and brandy cauldron. The brandy cauldron was under the slope of 90°.
Number of the working cauldrons depended on the corps. For example in 1860 in Kazanlak region were used 1271 cauldrons: in Aleksndrovo 107, Shipka 103 etc. Approximately 135 phials rose attar were produced by a cauldron. The Kazanlak region was a leader both in the number of planted lands as well in the number of used cauldrons.
The main prerequisite for producing rose water and after boiling -rose attar was the sufficient cooling of water vapours. As a result of many years practice the Bulgarian rose-producer used two methods. Bulgarian inventions were three to five times more effective than Indian and French methods. The first method used cooling hod and the second cooling barrel. They were uninterruptedly supplied with water to obtain sufficient cooling. Unless in India was cooled the vessel in which was gathered the rose oil, in Bulgaria the medial cooling through cooling hod and cooling barrel led to continuously and effective cooling of the distillate. An hour after lightening the fire under the cauldron, in which was put 15 kg rose blossoms and 60 L clean water the mixture boiled up and started the rose-boiling. Receiving more and quality rose attar depended on both - the rose blossoms and skills of the rose-producer. The practice proved that the Bulgarians are better masters than Turkish in rose-boiling. Turkish records from 1846, concerning rose-boiling in regions of Stara Zagora and Nova Zagora give the clue that more Bulgarians produced more rose attar from a cauldron. The Bulgarian rose-producers produced from 40 to 85 phials rose attar from a cauldron per season, and the Turkish from 14 to 53 or twice less. The rose boiling should have been made on weak fire, not admitting the cauldron to burn and the rose water to leak. Despite of hard work during the gyulap everything was beautiful and interesting. Near the river around the fires of the gyulpanas masters worked skillfully. At the same time in the center of the town or village were organized celebrations. The Bulgarian rose-producer celebrates the gyulap as a Day of the rose.
Leaking rose water was collected in special gyulap bottles - about 8 L. To obtain rose attar, collected from each cauldron two bottles were turned back in the cauldron and started the process of re-boiling. Re-boiled rose water and the concentrated rose attar were put in special flasks, called "syuriya". Since the rose attar is more light it went to the surface above the rose water. Then very carefully with the help of pipettes and syringes it was separated and stored in the attar flasks.
The rest of re-boiled gyul in the cauldron was strained through sieve and the cauldron was supplied again with rose blossom and water. This process continued till the rose blossom turned out. For obtaining 1 kg rose attar it took about three thousands kilograms rose blossom form red Kazanlak rose and about five thousands of white. The produced quantity of rose attar was measuring in special unit for weight, called phial and is equal to 4,9844 grams or approximately 5 grams. Till the Crimean war in the Bulgarian rose-producing regions were produced up to 300 thousands phials rose attar per year. For example in 1949 were producer 180 thousands phials and in 1952 - 300 thousand.
After the liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, the production of rose attar began to increase. In 1881 in Karlovo region were produced 110 thousands phials rose attar, in 1899 were produced 405 thousands phials, and in 1909 - 848 thousands phials. During the years were produced different quantities rose attar. Some years increased, some decreased depending on the geographic factors, world wars and crises.
The Bulgarian rose attar was exported in special vessels, named konkums - tinned copper vessels. For export were used konkums with capacity of 5 gr. to 5 kg., and for storage of 5-120 kg. The konkums for export were wrapped in soft feit cloth and wooden cases. On them the producers put their badge and the weigh of the rose attar.