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Fruit categories

Taxonomical category of the rose blossom system and rose family, this category includes apple, pear, Williams pear, quince and their wild types as well, such as wild apple, wild pear and the other apple type of fruits like medlar, rowanberry and hawthorn. (The wild types compete in the wild fruit category, while the rowanberry and hawthorn – due to their aroma -compete in the berry category. Pálinka is rarely made out of medlar, as it has rather characterless, sweetish taste.)


Apple is the most significant fruit of the moderate climate, it makes up the majority of the fruit, grown in Hungary, its usage is also very diverse. To produce apple pálinka the most favoured types are Jonathan, Jonagold, Golden and Red Delicious, Gála and Idared, yet lately there is a lot of pálinka to be found, made out of Mutsu, Fuji and Granny Smith apple as well. Out of these apples light, citrus, fresh aroma like pálinkas can be made, as well as full-bodied pálinkas with skin and waxy tone. They are often used as blending and ageing partner.

Palinka made from apple


Pear is after apple on the second place, when it comes to popularity and plantings. The European and Asian types represent a different category. Today it’s quite diverse. Many produce their pálinka with a variety of pear types, yet there are some pálinkas out there, which are made with a specific pear type like: Bosch Kobak, Packham’s Triumph, Kiffer, Conference or Clapp´s favourite. Based on their aroma world, when it comes to the palinka, they often share citrus, spicy, stony, sweet and compote like attributes.

Palinka made from pear

Williams Pear

Williams Pear is a separate category . Whether is Yellow Williams pear or Red Williams pear, its seductive, pronounced, perfume, floral, Eastern spice, citrus and skin tart driven aroma can be easily recognized. All of its aroma and flavour components are far more intensive, compared to the other pear types, therefore it is also judged in a separate category.

Palinka made from williams pear


Quince is a Western and Central Asian origin, has a thick, strong flesh, yet at the same time a very aromatic fruit. They are two different types, the apple quince and the pear quince (based on their looks). Both can grow even on the same tree, yet their aroma is somewhat different. Pálinkas are made from both, quince apple and quince pear, yet in the mix from both as well. The most popular quince types for making pálinka are: Bereczki highyielding, Mezőtúri, Leszkovácka (Leskováci), Vranja and Angersi. The fruit is covered in a slightly hairy like peel, which, if not removed, can deliver to the final product a piquant note. Pronounced pálinkas are more related to quince apple, the apple delivers somewhat sweeter, waxy notes, while quince pear suggests more pear like character, robust, citrus, slightly spicy and tart like aromas.

Palinka made from quince

Taxonomical category of the rose flowers and rose types, this category includes cherry, sour cherry, apricot, peach (nectarine) and plum. In Hungary sour cherry and cherry are well separated, while international publications often mention them together. (Closely related to the plum is greengage, yet pálinka is rarely made out of it). Their wild counterparts are running under the Wild fruit category.


Cherry originates in Anatolia and came from there to the territory of the Roman Empire, and later moved as an export good to different locations of Europe. Pálinka is produced often from the following types: Giant of Germersdorf, Katalin, Linda and Szomolyai black cherry. Pálinkas, made out of cherry, are more reserved, sharing flora, sweet tones with chocolate and marzipan as well.

Palinka made from cherry

Sour Cherry

Sour cherry could have been known during the time of the settlement as well. It has many different forms, such as black sour cherry, glassy sour cherry, sweet sour cherry or Morella. To produce pálinka the most favoured sour cherry types are: Újfehértói fürtös sour cherry, Debrecen high yielding, black sour cherry, Érdi high yielding, Pándy sour cherry. Pálinkas, produced out of the fruit, share pronounced aromas and flavours, floral, tart-sweet, chocolate, marzipan and candy like, liquor aromas.

Palinka made from sour cherry


Apricot belongs to the rose family of Persia. The prefix of ‘kajszi’ is of Ottoman-Turkish origin, commonly we refer to it as yellow apricot. In terms of pálinka it is a basic flavour, the most favoured types in the making of pálinka are: Gönci Hungarian apricot, Hungarian apricot, Pannónia, Rózsa apricot, Ceglédi bíbor apricot and Bergeron. The aroma is easily recognizable. Depending on the variety and vintage is shares from herbal, green spicy, green skin notes to floral, sweet jammy, marzipan attributes in the pálinkas.

Palinka made from apricot


Peach is one of our old fruits. It has a fairly diverse variety circle, yet from the point of view in making pálinka has a low fruit aroma intensity. It is difficult to produce good pálinka from it, therefore it can also be rarely found. The following types can be of good base material with their deep sweet, skin tart, tangy, slightly compote like aromas: Babygold, Gloria Red, Reedhaven, Napsugár, Szegedi Arany, etc.

Palinka made from peach


Plum is related to the apricot family, our 5000- year old cultured plant. Several types are grown in Hungary. It is a base flavour, when it comes to pálinka. Favoured and appreciated types are: Penyigei (Nemtudom), Besztercei, red plum, Mirabella, Debreceni Muscat, Stanley, Presenta, Lepotica and Cacanska. The several types of plum deliver quite a difference in the pálinkas. It can range from floral, light bodied ones to skin waxy, marzipan, chocolate, spicy, cinnamon, jammy, red berry attributes.

Palinka made from plum

The grape berry, the pressed grape pomace (skin, seeds and stem of the berry), and the wine lees, but even the wine itself would fit the purpose to make pálinka. However, the pálinka law only allows to make pálinka from Hungarian fruit, therefore the distilled products of wine and wine lees – because they are not directly fruit – can only be traded, distributed as spirit. Many pálinka distilleries are located in wine regions or near to vineyards, hence in their assortment there is a wide selection of grape and pomace pálinka. The raw material of the pálinka, pomace pálinka can be white grape, such as: Furmint, Zenit, Zöld Veltelini (Grüner Veltliner) or black grape varieties such as: Kékfrankos, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. The aromatic varieties such as Irsai Olivér, Cserszegi Fűszeres and Hárslevelű are also appreciated, when it comes to produce pálinka. It is considered as a speciality to produce pomace pálinka from Tokaji aszú and ever more a hybrid variety becomes the base of the seductive beverage. Whatever grape variety the producer chooses, based on the past experiences, consumers’ feedback confirms, that it can be a popular drink.

To produce grape pálinka, the whole berries (without pressing) are used. The grape pálinkas usually share the fruity, spicy, floral characters of the variety within their aroma and flavour profile. Because the juice also goes into the mash, the pálinka tends to be lighter, ethereal, often with pronounced aromatics, compared to the pomace pálinka, made from the same grape.

To produce pomace pálinka (törkölypálinka) the pomace – also known as marc – is used, which remains after the must is separated in the press: skin, seeds, flesh of the berry and after some gentle pressing some juice. Törkölypálinka (pomace pálinka) shares compact and richer structure. The varietal character of the fruit must be shown here as well, but due to the skin and seeds the notes are complimented by oiliness, prune character and tart tones.

Generally speaking the powerful structure comes with longer maturation and ageing potential, most of the pomace pálinkas – especially the ones, made from black grapes – appreciate being matured in wooden barrels. These pálinkas generally open somewhat slower in the glass, so it is suggested to let them breathe for a while.

Palinka made from grape Palinka made from pomace (törköly)

There is a certain difference in terms of character between a fruit grown wild and a fruit grown in cultivation. The „wild” ones are usually share more rusticity and overt flavour profile of the given type. Because of this wild apple, vackor/wild pear, wild cherry, wild apricot or prunus mahaleb pálinkas must be distinguished from the cultivated fruit ones, they also have to be judged in a separate category.

The wild apple shows less fruitiness and more of the acidic notes. The wild pear is very tart with a slight sweetness and pungent spiciness. The wild stone fruits share the characteristics of pronounced marzipan and almond, compared to the bred varieties. The wild peach is very rare with woody and tart floral tones. The wild cherry is sweet and bitter at the same time with aromas of chocolate. The prunus mahaleb points to spicy, sharp impressions with an overt red berry flavour.

The „berry” fruit provides the most intensive aroma and flavour impact, and perhaps the richest within the category of pálinka.

The experimentation is limitless and the commercial distilleries with their never-ending work attitude produce fantastic pálinkas, which otherwise would not make it in raw format to the public’s table. Many people know today the wild strawberry, the raspberry, the blackberry, the mulberry, the currant, the elderberry and the sloe pálinka. Here we meet many rarities as well, yet the rowan, the sea buckthorn, the blueberry and the hawthorn pálinkas are no longer curiosity anymore.

Wild strawberry can share green tone, even aromas of fallen/wet leaf. Raspberry can be spicy too beside the syrupy character. Blackcurrant usually translates aromas of herbs, medicinal notes, mint and anise. Elderberry can be citrus, mint and marzipan like. Sloe could show tart, herbal and chocolate personality, occasionally accompanied by lavender and notes of chocolate.

Due to the rare occurrence, it is harder to judge these varieties, and if someone does not know the basic characteristics of the fruit types, may often find strange, unusual, perhaps even identify as faulty aromas and flavours.

The wild and berry fruits belong to the lower yielding pálinkas, hence they need additional, extra care and expertise, which are also reflected in their price.

The bedded (ágyas) pálinka is a product, which was rested and matured for a minimum time of 3 months on the fruit bed, whereby from the fruit the colour, the aroma and the flavour profile, further on the fruit sugar are adding to the serious structure and enhancing the sweetness as well. In terms of method of production fresh and dried fruit bedding are both possible, even double (the usage of both) can create truly great products. Most producers leave a few pieces of fruit in the bottle, yet there are also products, whereby the whole fruit bed is placed into the bottle. The best balance is achieved, if we use the same fruit for bedding the pálinka is made from, however there are also examples, where contrasting different fruits to each other can also achieve interesting results. Today the producers work with clean and good quality raw material for pálinka and excellent fruit bed. The bedded pálinkas with their colour and liquor like appearance and often with their lower alcohol content are a good start for the consumer to become accustomed with the world of pálinka.

The mixed fruit pálinkas are not unfamiliar in front of the consumer, from the old traditions. The varieties, produced by the commercial distilleries, offer a higher quality category. In the past competition we could find more and more fascinating products. The producers’ desire to experiment means, that it’s a challenge for them to create a fruit distillate by blending the individual components together, so that a higher category can be created at the end. Keeping the origins of the fruit aromas with another fruit requires a truly artistic vein. There are such successful blends of fruits like grape with sour cherry, apple with raspberry, yet a combination of three different flavours are not unthinkable either, such as apricot quince grape. These products are a real curiosity and have a worthy place in the World of Pálinka

Beddid (ágyas) palinkas Palinka made from mixed fruit