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The pálinka law / regulation

Cognac, calvados, champagne, whisky tequila, sherry, port etc – they’re all bottle-labels. Anyone knows before drinking what’s inside the bottle because of regulations strictly determine the conditions of the name. Some of them are protected from ages, with detailed definition.

There are exact conditions set in connection with the land of origin, basic materials, production technology as well as maturation technique and time span and all kinds of bottle labels.
A quick look on the authentic label and we can be quite sure about the content of the bottle and quality.

According to the old nomenclature, three products can be called „pálinka” in Hungary: the so-called „kommersz” made of ethyl alcohol with aroma. Available at reasonable price because of steady demand, but we do not call it „pálinka”. Second category is made of 100% fruit. Between them there was the so-called „cut pálinka” as it was made with ethyl alcohol and distilled alcohol as well.

Today the word „pálinka” – similar to other national drinks – is protected. From 1 July 2002 it’s not possible to call any drink „pálinka”. (see appendix No. 3) According to the rules of the Hungarian spelling the written word is fully protected by the European Union. The name is due only for the highest quality – only clear fruit distillate (made of 100% fruit) can be called „pálinka” with at least 37,5% alcohol strength. This name can be used only by Hungary and four Austrian provinces. Beside fruits „pálinka” can be produced from grape- and fruit-skin. After joining the Union Romania can produce and distribute fruit brandy as well but only with the name „palinca”.

Most of the times we know exactly what kind of fruit the speciality was produced and where.

The valid regulation of origin- and name protection not only fulfils the consumers’ legal claim for detailed information about the product but qualitatively beneficial for the product itself. There are grades, levels today which are worth to be aimed. We meet different names to which it’s possible to grow up. By this means, both producers and consumers demand quality.

Legal protection brings the opportunity for one of the hungarikums (traditional and typical, special and unique Hungarian product) to become qualitative international brand contributing a better country image. Cognac and calvados started similarly but here’s the latest example of italian marc brandy, „grappa”. After almost full international anonimity grappa became known,well-known and finally elegant, expensive drink in the last twenty years.

„I cannot write a cheerful poem, I smile rarely, I drink often, I am choking all my griefs into pálinka.”
Gábor Koncz