by Imre Milán Harcsa, András Nábrádi & Ildikó Tar
The history of alcoholic distillation dates back over thousands of years. Spirits arrived in Hungary by the mediation of foreign countries, and were used as medicine in the royal court already in the XIV. Century. The first written presence of the pálinka as a word originated in Debrecen (1572). The quality and alcohol degree of these drinks were increased continuously, and rose to ’Hungaricum’ rank due to several factors such as the quality of the fruit stock grown in our country, the technical development of distillers and several centuryold professional experience. Mitterpacher, who distinguished the main parts of the equipment, reviewed the determination methods of alcohol content, and made a proposal for coating the inner surface of the cauldron with tin in favour of the preparation of the high-quality product, played an important role in the establishment of the literature of pálinka distillation. Subcontract distillation, considered as an individual peculiarity in the European Union, developed during a long time in Hungary. It was facilitated by the regulation of distillery plants allowing the operation also for private persons from 1983. The fame of Hungarian national drink increased greatly when the meaning of pálinka was defined punctually: those drinks could be called ’pálinka’, which had 100% fruit content containing no additives, prepared in Hungary and their alcohol content was at least 37.5%. According to conservative evaluation, more than 50% of the Hungarian adult population consumes pálinka occasionally. The majority of the adult population believes that a small amount of pálinka is good for health; many people use it for the alleviation of toothache, sore throat and stomachache. Pálinka has a mood-enhancing impact at social parties and pleasant family events, if consumed in moderation. This paper is an overview of the history of Hungarian pálinka. This is the first part of the article. In the second part we analyze cost-benefit circumstances, and we also deal with the main problematic issue, namely the effect of tax-free production in Hungary and in the European Union.