Palinka is part of the cultural heritage of Hungary and some say that palinka is as unique as the Hungarian language itself.
This is why palinka – after the suggestion of the Palinka National Council – became part of an elite circle of products called Hungaricums in March 2013. According to the Hugaricum Committee a product can become Hungaricum if it is inimitable, distinct, unique and, of course, Hungarian. Palinka is considered to be a ‘national drink, its ways of preparation, production and taste are part of the everyday life and almost every gatherings in Hungary.
All these expressions are valid for palinka, and with this title, palinka is protected by a wide range of laws and regulations in order to preserve its uniqueness for the generations to come.
It is almost impossible to determine the number of distilleries in Hungary because after the initiation of a law anyone can brew palinka at home for own household, family members and guests up to 100 litres per year. However, there are approximately 150 ‘official’, registered distilleries in Hungary and of course their life is all about competition because only those survive and stay on the market whose products are bought by the consumers.
In order to decide which palinka distillery is the best, it is a tradition in Hungary to organise festivals and contests for this unique drink and its producers.
These festivals and contests are organised annually and different kinds of rewards are given for the best distilleries and products, which is definitely a huge professional acknowledgement and a good marketing option for the winners.
There are individual, region-based palinka contests for counties and there is usually one national palinka contest every year for the whole country. Palinka National Council is a key organization when it comes to contests and they also play a key role in the training of the sensory critics who are the members of the jury during such high-prestige contests.
One of the most famous country palinka contests is traditionally held in Gyula, Békés County. During the event visitors can learn about hundreds of products of twenty Hungarian distilleries.
The winner will bear the title ‘Palinka of the County” for a year. The county government purchases palinka from the winner for a year for protocol purposes, which is definitely a significant marketing strategy; giving high-prestige to the drink.
Also, they will shoot a short advertisement about the winner distillery. In the framework of the palinka festival, the distillate competition called ‘Brillate-2017’ is also held where private and commercial distilleries can compete for victory.
More than 700 distillates were registered for the competition. Champion gold, silver and bronze qualifications are awarded for the winners. Also it is important to mention that the year 2017 is the year of plum, therefore plum palinka gets special attentions and during the festivals, commercial distilleries make packages from their best plum palinkas, which are great for gifting purposes.
All the pieces of information about the annual contests and festivals are available online with exact dates, places and list of the participating distilleries. These festivals are usually huge gatherings that every member of the family can enjoy.