The history of our distillery goes back to 1982 when I was selected from among a dozen applicants in my home town of Tiszaföldvár to head up the “Grand Distillery” of the county. At the time the city had a total of 9 distilleries. Fighting for the trust of customers, I found myself so engrossed in work that after regularly spending 16 hours at the distillery on workdays, I actually missed the place on my days off. Similarly to others who found passion in work, I fell in love with this occupation. After 6 years I quit the “easy” job of being an employee and fired up my own pálinka distillery on June 18, 1988. It may be hard to understand now, but it’s strange that I became an entrepreneur in an environment filled with employees who looked at private enterprise as “the enemy” throughout their lives. And in the production of spirits, this was definitely the case.
The early stages of pálinka production
I have always had a soft spot for regular, but contrary things. This is how I started to commercially distill pálinka in the spring of 1990. Having mastered the simple skills of agricultural work, I now had to master the consid erably more complicated skills of marketing and sales professionals. I decided to jump in at the deep end, and sent some samples to a merchant in Edmonton, Canada. Then I waited for 20 years for the market, utterly indifferent to my skills and dreams, to recognize the merits of my products. I spent 12 to 14 years struggling hard against 400+ operators flooding the market with synthetic spirits upon the demise of most old fashioned true -blue distillers. Conditions changed only when Pálinka was legally elevated to the status of a branded product in 2002. Professional organizations mushroomed, national and regional pálinka contests multiplied. As a founding member, I assisted at the birth of all professional organizations representing the interests of producers . I headed the Pálinka Chapter of the Spirits Industry Association and Product Council for 6 years, co-founded the Pálinka Order of Knighthood, and joined the National Association of Fruit Pálinka Distillers and the East Hungary Pálinka Distillers’ Organization.
The House of the Hungarian Pálinka
In 2003 we founded the House of Hungarian Pálinka, and on October 31 the same year we opened our first shop in Budapest, at Rákóczi út 17, representing a major milestone in the history of our company. After 1995 Hunga rian producers found that retail chains represented more or less their only chance for marketing their products. These chains, however, were unable to absorb the products of a snowballing production base of many small distillers, and were happy to work with only 6 to 8 of them. This made the House of Hungarian Pálinka a vitally important marketing outlet for small producers. Keeping the products of almost 60 pálinka distillers on stock, the House of Hungarian Pálinka now has shops in Szolnok, Szeged, Kecskemét and Gyula, and is actively looking for opportunities in additional cities. Our sales model is unusual in that we were the first to establish a sales network covering the entire country. We have 11 representatives with delivery routes to 1600 points of sales consisting of restaurants, hotels, and other faithful and happy customers.
Szicsek’s Pálinka Outside Hungary
By now we have established markets in Canada, Germany, Iceland, Slovakia, Austria, Great Britain, Kazahstan, Romania and Russia. We had to work hard to develop these markets, and are actively pursuing new market opportunities to grow our exports. We take pride in being successful and polishing the reputation of Hungary as the source of premium quality pálinka, our national spirit. Our success in Hungary and abroad is supported by intense footwork aimed at making products of consistent quality at attractive price/value levels, reliably. Our pálinka products show their mettle in contests and competitions: they have won 11 champion prizes, as well as 59 gold, 89 silver, and 64 bronze medals. Our Bedded Pear Pálinka received the “Pálinka of the Year” award in 2008, and our company won the “Commercial Pálinka Distillery of the Year” title in 2009 and the “Jász -Nagykun-Szolnok County’s Enterprise of the Year” title in 2003 and 2011. Our product range continues to grow, and we keep developing new, exciting sorts of pálinka for our customers.
To keep our customers happy and attract new customers, we keep adding new attractions. Next year we will have a new, state-of-the-art still that visitors can see, smell and touch, a boating lake, a petting zoo with small pets, an old -style farmyard, and a multifunction pálinka tasting hall with up -todate catering facilities. The National Park of Tiszazug, where our facilities are located, offers an ideal place for recreation, which we hope to enhance with our programs. Groups varying in size from 6 to about 50 are welcome to visit our distillery and taste our pálinkas. We can even organize multi-day programs for our visitors.