This week we have a very special episode as we’re sampling a few bottles of palinka from commercially made, to home made. Special guests Freedom and Zsolt guide us through Hungary’s best known spirit palinka.
Palinka is best described as a brandy which is distilled from fruit. The spirit is typically clear unless something is added, like fruit, after the distilling process. The spirit doesn’t spend much time aging after being distilled. You’ll find the average times between 3 to 24 months in a wooden cask. (Wood not specified).
Like moonshine is to America, palinka has its roots deep into Hungarian heritage dating back to it’s discovery during the middle ages. It can be made from any fruit however it’s commonly created with plums, apricots, apples, pears, and cherries.
With our sampling, we’re lucky to try not only plum and apricot, but also grape palinka created with exhausted winery grapes from Zsolt’s family. We found great differences between the commercially available spirit and the ones made at home. The home made spirit was exceptionally flavorful and aromatic compared to the commercial bottle. Plus, the alcohol content was much higher, giving it a sharp punch to the tongue.
Some history about palinka from Wikipedia…
The first records of the Hungarian spirit date back to the fourteenth century (1332); called Aqua vitae reginae Hungariae, it referred to the aqua vitae of the wife of the King Charles I of Hungary. This spirit was probably a brandy blended with rosemary, and had its use in medicine, as both the king and the queen suffered from arthritis.