The National Pálinka of Excellence Program launched by the Ministry of Agriculture is now in its sixth year of making, and while ever changing, the
year 2019 has brought many innovations. First and foremost it is important to highlight, that it’s not a competition in the classical sense. The main aim of the Program is to raise the cultured consumption of quality pálinka and grape marc pálinka– which have a geographic indication protection –, to highlight its importance in the gastronomy and to promote it both to national and international consumers. During the ccompetition, the pálinkas were selected from the colourful collection of the pálinka houses, which thanks to their high quality, rightfully represent the sector.
With the goals in mind – returning to the 2014 foundation – the Program was organized independently, ensuring the complete independence and high professionalism.
The entry requirements have been renewed. The number of submitted samples and their minimum and maximum values were provided in order to ensure equal opportunities to every producers.
Five mandatory subcategories (Williams pear, pear, apricot, plum and aromatic grape) got announced to provide a wide range of popular fruits for the consumers. The pálinka houses had to submit at least three products from these five subcategories.
This year for the first time the Pálinka of the Ministry of Agriculture has been selected as well, from those, which got the TOP Pálinka Excellence award and were nominated in commercial category. With this initiative an outstanding pálinkas from the excellent pálinkas was awarded.
The Program was implemented by meeting the highest professional standards:
• led by the new professional president, invited by the Minister,
• under the direction of the Department of Food Economy and Origin Protection,
• with the close cooperation of the National Food Chain Safety Office (NÉBIH).
The process of the assessment The submitted samples went through a detailed
analytical check by the NÉBIH, the sensory assessment has been done according to the traditions by the highlyqualified, independent Pálinka Judging Committee.
In order to ensure complete consensus, the Pálinka Judges tasted through a process of blind tasting all the samples anonymously and selected the ones,
which they determined for Pálinka Excellence or TOP Pálinka Excellence. Even if only one person thought that one of the samples are destined to be a
TOP Pálinka Excellence, all the other judges had to re-taste it and the final award has been given based on a majority vote.
The pálinkas, selected to be part of the Excellences, have been described by the Pálinka Judges in groups of 2-3 people, which can be read in this book by the Dear Reader. The award-winning ceremony was held this year once again at the Upper House of the Parliament on 19th June 2019.
The Hungarian Pálinkas of Excellence Book is now in its fifth year of publication and a lot has happened during this time.
This year was a milestone in many aspects. It was the first time, that the best pálinkas, the Pálinkas of Excellence got introduced to a wider audience in cooperation with the Agrármarketing Centrum and the National Palinka council at the International Wine and Spirit Fair, at the ProWein in Düsseldorf. Beside the master classes and the tasting zone, even pálinka cocktail creations had been presented to the public. Close work has started with the General Consulate of Düsseldorf in pálinka promotions and there are further emerging possibilities.
We believe, that the excellent Hungarian pálinkas have to be shown to the world!
The online website in Hungarian and English language – www.palinka.gov.hu – has been launched and the Pálinka of Excellence can be accessed through social media as well.
This year two new pálinka distilleries have been added to the ‘family’ of Pálinkas of Excellence, and we hope that in the future more and more distillery will use this opportunity to submit their samples, helping us
as well to bring the wonderful pálinkas a bit closer to the world. Better guidance for consumers is also supported by lot numbers this year.
The selection system has not changed compared to last year’s evaluation, only those pálinkas got to the independent pálinka jury, which received on the base assessment (the National Pálinka and Grape marc Pálinka Competition) at least 16 points out of the 20.
The selection of the Pálinkas of Excellence has been done by an independent panel of experts, the Pálinka Judging Committee, the samples were evaluated anonymously (in blind tasting) and a consensus decision was made in the selection of the Pálinka Excellency by each group.
Those samples, which one group deemed worthy to be called TOP Pálinka Excellency, have been tasted on the second day by all judges and the majority’s vote determined their result.
All pálinkas, which got TOP Pálinka Excellency and Pálinka Excellency, have been described in form of a tasting note, which helps to guide the consumer
through the fantastic fruits.
The National Pálinka of Excellence Program initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2014. The Program has become an important task for the Deputy State Secretariat of Geographical Indication as well.
For this year’s competition 43 commercial distilleries submitted in total 382 pálinkas and pomace pálinkas, giving a serious task to the organizers and judges, which they all accomplished very well.
In the book of the Hungarian Pálinkas of Excellence, pálinkas were selected purely based on their quality. The assessment system is established on standardized criteria, formed in 2014, and the consumers’ taste.
The judgement, assessment was done by the ten members of the Pálinka Judging Committee, all of them are great experts in their field and independent from the distilleries. Only those samples were assessed by them, which got at least 16 points out of the 20 at the base judgment, at the National Pálinka and Pomace Pálinka Competition. The pálinka judges evaluated each and every sample anonymously (in a blind tasting), yet the final consensus was made as a group, giving a complete assessment about the product, highlighting the small differences. Comparing to the previous years the difference lies in replacing the five star (******) category to TOP Pálinka of Excellence. The difference within the samples in the category is the more extensive, detailed assessment, description.
Some distilleries, due to their outstanding work, have several award-winning samples within one main category, however according to the competition rules, it is only allowed to highlight 2-2 products within one main category, in order to provide an easier customer orientation.
This year overall 161 pálinkas have become part of the Excellencies, from which 115 got awarded the title of Pálinka Excellency, while 46 got awarded TOP Pálinka Excellency, from which 130 samples are highlighted in this book.
Pálinka of Excellence
The product is free from any faults whether separation or technology based on organoleptic properties, shares clean scent and supports the aroma and flavour notes according to the method of production. The Pálinkas, awarded this merit, are made by perfect mashing and distilling technology, well-adjusted alcohol degree, beside the date of the harvest – which
determines the quality of the fruit – has been selected properly. They share more than just fruitiness as a quality (e.g.: complexity and structural alances as well) mark. Harmonious pálinkas with good balance and some hallmark, which puts them above the average products. Pálinkas with good and very good evaluations based on international assessments. We recommend these pálinkas to any interested person.
TOP Pálinka of Excellence
The samples, which are beyond the beauty of the Pálinka of Excellence, top-end category, unquestionable quality pálinka. „Once in a lifetime is a must” category. Perfect harmony, expression, complexity and elegance, as well as sharing some sort of character, which the qualified tasters deem as outstanding, memorable. The descriptions of these products are more complex, longer and sometimes even poetic to highlight the difference of the given pálinka. All these pálinkas stand well in international competitions against other similarly excellent products as well, pálinkas with outstanding merit, (20 points) double gold medal and/or champion (trophy) award winning at official competitions.
Pálinka of the Ministry of Agriculture
This title is given to the product selected from TOP Pálinka Excellences of the mandatory subcategories. Only one pálinka received this award,
that is a rightful representative of all the Pálinkas, which can highlight the beauty of the Hungarian fruit and the determination of the producers and
traditions at the same time in the highest quality.