It is not a coincidence that the Hungarian ‘firewater’ or palinka has managed to become more and more famous not only in Hungary but around the world as well.
The reason for that is simple: this unique, fragrant spirit is made of 100% fruit with the help of special production techniques, which determine the quality and characteristics of the palinka.
The quality of the fruit is also very important. It is obvious that the best palinka is made of the best quality fruit. So, this means that contrary to the popular belief, it is not advisable to use damaged or low-quality fruit for palinka production. At the end of the distillation process, the freshly made spirit is not suitable for consumption. The storage of this drink is just as important as its production and highly determines the quality, fragrance and taste of this outstanding alcoholic beverage.
It is essential to know that the freshly made palinka should be stored in an appropriate environment. Appropriate environment means a dark or a low-light place.
The reason for this is that the aromas/flavours of certain fruit are sensitive to light. Direct light triggers a chemical reaction that may result in a bad-quality end-product. Of course, not all kinds of fruit react to light in the same way and the time of the exposure is also an important factor. There are more sensitive and less sensitive types of fruit. Exposure to light can result in the transformation of aromas/flavours and consequently, the drink’s taste and smell change.
The problems and difficulties of storage can be avoided if one chooses dark coloured bottles for palinka storage. However, palinka is usually stored in transparent bottle. In such cases, more caution is needed during storage.
There is a phenomenon that comes up quite often when it comes to palinka storage. When firewater is stored for a longer period of time or at inappropriate temperature, it can easily become ‘opaque’ or – in other words – , ‘cloudy’. The reason for this is the presence of fusel oils that are natural elements of palinka.
They dissolve quite well in alcohol but not in water. Fusel oils can cause ‘cloudiness’ especially in weaker (lower alcohol-degree) palinkas. However, it is important to know that this opacity is merely an aesthetic problem and does not affect palinka’s taste and fragrance.
If stored properly, this delicious spirit can be ‘aged’ like whiskey. The kind of palinka that is stored in a max. 1000 l wooden barrel for at least one or two years is called ‘ó-palinka’ in Hungarian and ‘ó’ refers to the fact that it has been aged in a barrel for years. ‘Ó-palinka’ has a unique, deep taste that combines the flavours of the fruit and the barrel that makes it even more characteristic.
If you are not sure how to store palinka properly, do not hesitate to contact a professional distillery and ask for advice. Remember, palinka that is stored properly is joy to the stomach and to the eyes as well.