For those who haven’t heard of it, Palinka is a traditional form of fruit brandy that’s popular in Eastern Europe, especially in its country of origin — Hungary. The beverage has high alcohol content and is made from fruits such as plums or cherries. English speakers can spell it “pahlinka,” and it’s pronounced much like it looks: “PAH-linka.”
Whether you drink it regularly or are just learning about it for the first time, you mind find the following facts about Palinka of interest.
1. It’s illegal to call fruit brandy made any country but Hungary “Palinka”
In 2008 the European Union passed a regulation entitled the “Hungarian Palinka Law,” which states that only fruit brandy made in Hungary may be labeled or sold as Palinka. All fruit used to make legitimate Palinka must be grown within Hungary and the entire distillation process has to take place within the country as well.
2. There are different types of Palinka
Though the term Palinka refers to all fruit brandy produced within Hungary, there are also different sub-categories based on various aspects such as the way it was distilled, the type of cask it was aged in, how long it was aged, and the type of fruit used to make it. There are also trademarked brands of Palinka that take their names from the regions where they were produced.
3. Palinka is considered an essential part of Hungarian culture
So many Hungarians enjoy Palinka that there is actually not one, but several Palinka festivals that take place around the country at different points during the year.
Some people believe the drink has numerous health benefits when consumed in moderation regularly, and others consider it to be a useful medicine for some ailments. There’s even a familiar Hungarian greeting that translates to “Good morning with Palinka!”
5. Palinka is best served hot
If Palinka is served cold, it’s harder to make out the various flavors in the drink. The ideal way to serve Palinka — for Hungarians, anyway — is at a temperature of 18-20 ° C, which brings out the brandy’s aroma in addition to its rich flavor.
6. Palinka is surprisingly easy to make at home
One of the reasons Palinka rose to popularity was because of how simple it is to make. It requires few ingredients and can be distilled in any sort of whiskey still.
In fact, Hungary has made it legal for people to both ferment and distill Palinka within their own homes on a small scale, a privilege that many Hungarians choose to enjoy.