Origin of Brandy (Pálinka)

Pálinka is a distilled spirit drink which is made of fermented fruit. According to the European Union Law the word brandy can only be used in Hungary and 4 other Austrian provinces.

Ingredients are mainly from plum, pear, apple, apricot, cherry, grape marc, strawberry but of course Brandy can be made of any fruits.

Based on a Hungarian Food Book and on the Law only those products can be named Brandy which are made from fruits and grape marc, were produced in Hungary and contain 100% fruit and contain at least 37,5% alcohol and aroma.

First written source mentions 1332 when Brandy appeared in the public mind. 
In 1656 the so called Opera Medica book has been published by Joannes Proavetius. In this book at the beginning he mentioned the ”the water of the Hungarian queen”. This water was wine spirit flavoured with aroma and queen Elizabeth used it for her gouts. Practically she used it as a medicine and not as a beverage. King Charles Robert had gout and started to use this spirited water as well to heal it. This disease is not easy to cure but after 1332 time King Charles Robert was never mentioned along with his gout disease.
Drink was called ”Aqua vitae reginae Hungariae” – ”The water of life of the Hungarian queen”.
Through Italian merchants the drink reached the royal cities and also the royal court. They called it as ”burnt wine” and still use it in some places.

Until the 16th century this drink qualified as a medicine.
From the 17th century the Brandy apellation spreaded, but only for those which were made from grain. In 1836 they introduced the Brandy tax and from 1850 Brandy became as a state monopoly.

Hungary has been granted the exclusive right to use the word Pálinka. 

One hundred liters of brandy must be supplemented with either 10 kilograms of ripe fruit or 5 kilograms of dried fruit. This rule apply to those brandy which had been produced after 1st of August.

Certain geographical areas are particularly well-suited to the cultivation of certain varieties of fruit and have been producing high-quality brandy for centuries.
We currently have seven such landscapes and varieties of fruit.

These are:
Szatmár - Plum brandy
Kecskemét - Peach brandy
Szabolcs - Apple brandy
Békés - Plum brandy
Göncz - Peach brandy
Újfehértó - Sour cherry brandy
Göcsej - Pear brandy

About consumption
Especially in villages was it popular to drink a shot of Brandy after getting up, then make the roles around the barn and have a breakfast. Brandy makes a good foundation for breakfast.
If you drink Brandy (even it its more than 4 cl) you won’t have any feelings of hangover, no headache, no stomach ache, nothing of such. You know it is a good quality Brandy if you can taste the flavour of the fruit. Nowadays people store Brandy in the refrigerator but this procedure is incorrect as the fruit’s flavour will disappear. It is the best to consume it on 18-20 celsius degrees.
We should drink it slowly, having every sip from a tulip shaped glass.

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