Whilst on a recent tour of Hungary I visited the local Palinka factory with some members of Kerekes Band. For the unaware Palinka is a clear, fruit based highly alcoholic beverage consumed by just about everyone in Hungary (in spectacular quantities) and roughly compares to poteen.
The fruit, usually apricots, pears, plums or grapes (but can include chillies) is grown locally, picked by the owners and sent to the local brewery to be converted into Palinka. After the fruit has been collected or delivered to the distillery you can chose what strength (ABV) you would prefer from the eventual liquor (generally around 40 or 50 %) A good quality Palinka of around 50% ABV can also be purchased at the local supermarkets for roughly 6 Euros per litre.
Fruit is loaded into open drums & transported to the brewery. Plums already fermenting in the drum
The fruit waiting to be loaded into the still which is heated by local timber
Palinka tecnicians shift in more barrels of plums whilst Csaba, Zsombor and I watch. It is local legend that the gentleman above dressed in a blue boiler-suit used to be a notorious villain that torched peoples properties if they were late with their protection money. The legend continues.. he was aided and abetted by members of the local volunteer fire service who he had plied with copious quantities of Palinka prior to the deed.
Akos, Zsombor and myself tasting some Apricot Palinka fresh from the stil, I think Zsombor approves!