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Location: Hungary

Pálinka is a Hungarian brandy derived from fruits native to the Carpathian basin. These are typically orchard fruits and most commonly seen are plum, pear, apple, cherry, grape, apricot, peaches, raspberries, strawberries and currants. Pálinka made of pomace (törkölypálinka) is also very common and is a typical drink in the wine producing regions of the country. Within each fruit there are obviously varieties which play a significant part in the final flavour.


About Tarpa Pálinka
Tarpa Lake
Tarpa Plum
Tarpa Village

Fruit trees were initially planted on the Hungarian plains to solidify the sandy soil so that other crops could be grown. Over time it has been found that the Hungarian climate is perfect for fruit production. In Kesckemet, the most famous growing region for apricots, the clay subsoil slowly radiates creating a greenhouse effect to ripen the fruit slowly.

Pálinka, originating from the Slavic stem “páliť” meaning "to burn", has traditionally been a largely at home distilled product.  To villagers it was a way to make use of excess fruit that could not be sold, eaten fresh or turned in to jam.

This term for distilled spirit became widespread in Hungary in the 17th century and from there spread to neighbouring countries. Thanks to an EU directive the term Pálinka can now only be used for these brandies that are made in Hungary and a couple of neighbouring border towns in Austria and Romania.

According to EU law the word Pálinka may only be used to label products:

• Manufactured exclusively through fermentation and distillation of fruit or grape marc without any form of additive

• Produced from fruit or grape marc, distilled and bottled in Hungary, with the exception of apricot Pálinka made in four Austrian states

• With alcohol of at least 37.5% and up to 86%

While Pálinka can be produced from any wild or farmed fruit growing in Hungary, the most common varieties produced are Apricot, Plum, Pear, and Cherry, with Apricot generally accepted to be the most popular. Pálinkas growing from wild fruit are very rare and considered to be a delicacy.


The Production of Pálinka

1) Sorting of Fruit – From the first cherries of the season to the last plums, all the fruit arriving at the distillery is washed and then manually sorted to ensure that the quality of the fruit is as required, and that no sub-standard fruit is used for the production of Pálinka which may affect the quality of the final product.  

2) Crushing of Fruit – The sorted fruit is then crushed and the stones, seeds and stalks, if present, are removed. At this stage acid and yeast may be added to the fruit mixture to aid and regulate the fermentation process, and oxygen will be removed from the mixture to prevent it having an adverse affect on the quality of the fruit mixture.

3) Fermentation – The fruit mixture is then pumped in to sealed fermentation vats. Here it will naturally ferment and the natural fruit sugars will be converted to alcohol. Fermentation vats will usually be temperature controlled as the heat generated by the fermentation process would cook the fruit mixture otherwise, and lead to undesirable flavours in the finished product. This is usually kept to 18⁰c. Fermentation takes approximately 10 days but this can vary depending upon the fruit in question (those fruits with less natural sugar ie quince will take longer). Fermentation time is also affected by the particular batch of fruit being fermented. Some distilleries will add a quantity of fruit stones to the fermentation and distillation process to add complexity and marzipan character to the final product. When sugar levels in the mixture are measured as consistently stable fermentation is complete.

4) Distillation – The fermented fruit mixture is now distilled to produce Pálinka. Distillation is in copper pot stills. Distillation is either once or twice depending on the distillery. The design of the still also varies between producers producing subtle differences in the finished products. The spirit will come of the still at anything up to 90 % ABV and is then reduced to the desired strength with the addition of spring water.

5) Ageing – Most Pálinkas are stored in stainless steel tanks for a period of time subsequent to distillation to settle. Traditionally Pálinka is an eau-de-vie, which is to be drunk young and fresh. Some varieties are however given some ageing in barrels, typically not longer than 18 months.

No additives of any kind are permitted in Pálinka production. 


Pálinka and How to Drink It

The spirit is consumed in Hungary as both a shot and as a sipping drink, as an aperitif and as a digestif depending on the drinker (and their traditions). 

For a full appreciation it should be served at between 18 and 20 Degrees Celsius and in a small tulip shaped glass. Rather than shot down, the aromas can be savoured and the Pálinka sipped in generous mouthfuls.

As the cocktail community grows in Hungary, Pálinka is also being used as a cocktail ingredient. Tarpa showcases its potential in Hungary and abroad with signature cocktails created by Brit bartender Dez O’Connell.


Recipes for Palinka Cocktails

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  1. Tarpa Szabolcsialma Pálinka (Aged Jonathan Apple)
    ABV: 42% Unit Volume: 50CL
    Single: £28.71 (ex VAT)
    Mix (12+): £24.40 (ex VAT)
    Single: £34.45 (Inc VAT)
    Mix (12+): £29.28 (Inc VAT)

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  2. Tarpa Vilmoskörte Pálinka (Pear Williams)
    ABV: 42% Unit Volume: 50CL
    Single: £28.71 (ex VAT)
    Mix (12+): £24.40 (ex VAT)
    Single: £34.45 (Inc VAT)
    Mix (12+): £29.28 (Inc VAT)

    Add to Wishlist

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