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Gastro

In search of the best pálinkas around Balaton

Like you, we are hoping that the Indian summer and the obligatory last rosé fröccs drinking sessions are still to come, but it’s the middle of September, and this time of year it’s only fair to draw your attention to the other archaic Hungarian drink besides wine.

Somló Spirit Pálinka House

Located at the western foot of the Bakony Hills, Nagy-Somló wine region is quite a bit further away from Balaton, but as we’ve emphasized in several of our wine guides before, Hungary’s smallest historic wine region is officially one of Balaton’s winemaking areas. Opened in 2009, the distillery of Somló Spirit Pálinka House in Somlóvásárhely employs cutting-edge technology, paying special attention to energy efficiency, and to environmental protection in general.

The fruit processed at the pálinka house comes from around the Somló Hill and the Balaton Uplands. As a nod to the surrounding wine region, Somló Spirit makes pálinka from the traditional local grape variety Juhfark, with the complete palette of products also including spirits distilled from quince, plum, black cherry, Williams pear, wild pear, apricot, apple and black currant.

Making an appointment before you arrive is a wise move. Address: 8481 Somlóvásárhely, Somló-hegy 044/4 hrsz. (47°7’42.6” N, 17°22’24.9” E). Information: +36 20 777 10 77, info@somlospirit.hu.

Renaissance Badacsony Pálinka House

Renaissance Badacsony Pálinka House in Badacsonyörs is a little family manufactory recently launched by Kati Jakab and Tamás Molnár. Construction began in August 2011, and by the spring of 2012 the distillery was producing its own premium category products. Using absolutely up-to-date technology, the pálinka house makes excellently fragrant, delectable fruit brandies with care. The ingredients, especially for the grape and pomace pálinkas, are procured from the Badacsony area, some of the most important ones being Kéknyelű, Welschriesling, Muscat, Tramini and Hárslevelű. Pálinkas distilled from fruit such as strawberry, pear, apple, quince, dwarf elder, apricot, black cherry, plum, sour cherry and even cantaloupe can also be found among their selection of exquisite products.

Visitors to Renessaince can opt for pálinka tastings with 6 and 12 items; the required number of participants is six for the former (3,000 HUF/person), and seven for the latter (6,700 HUF/person). The 12-flight version may sound alarming at first, but it’s fairly self-evident that the served portions are tiny, and they come with salami, liver pate, pork trotters with horseradish, egg platter, fresh and seasonal vegetables and, of course, mineral water.  

Guests are required to book an appointment: +36 70 340 5152, reneszansz@badacsonyipalinkahaz.hu. Address: 8257 Badacsonyörs, Füredi út 3.

Petendi Pálinka House

One of the permanent venues of the Valley of Arts, Vigántpetend has received quite a boost since the change of the regime, both in terms of the number of young inhabitants and infrastructure. Located about 15 km from Balaton, the Veszprém County village is a great destination outside the end-of-July festival season as well: with the iconic figures of Jenő Rejtő on its bottles, Petendi Pálinka House awaits guests all year long for pre-arranged tastings and distillery tours. The products are sorted into two categories based on their alcohol percentage by volume: the items in the “Fülig Jimmy” series are all 40%, particularly aromatic, lighter pálinkas made from apple, plum, so-called Gypsy cherry, Irsai Olivér and apricot (both regular and fruit bed versions are available), while the 60% “Piszkos Fred” Gypsy cherry pálinka is known for its strength and its characteristic, barrel matured flavors of clove, cinnamon and vanilla. A cigar is the perfect choice to accompany this powerful spirit, but if you’re a non-smoker, walnuts matured in honey or dried berries go nicely with it as well.

Let us point out that Petendi Pálinka House offers a flavor guarantee for all of its products, which means that if you didn’t like any of their pálinkas, you can return the opened bottle to their headquarters, and they’ll refund the full price, no questions asked – apparently. Information: +36 70 940 20 80, erzsebet.kovacsne@petendipalinka.hu. Address: 8293 Vigántpetend, HRSZ 55/19.

Zimek Pálinka Manufactory

Over the 10 years of its existence, Zimek has received acclaim at both Hungarian and international pálinka and spirits competitions. Founder and namesake Roland Zimek has always been adamant about reaching and maintaining the highest possible quality by meeting the strictest standards of the trade. The distillery purchases the ingredients for its first class pálinkas from around Lake Balaton: apple, elderberry, quince, blackberry, black currant, brambleberry, sour cherry, raspberry, plum, Cserszegi Fűszeres, Irsai Olivér – and the list goes on. Apart from fruit and pomace pálinkas, the manufactory also produces special distillates from walnut, coffee and mahaleb cherry flower.

Visitors can take a tour of the distillery with an expert guide, who will provide an insight into the various phases of production, while the tasting room awaits pálinka lovers with tasting sequences of 4, 6, 12 and – brace yourselves – 18+ items. The room can accommodate 40 people at most, with four participants being the required minimum. Simple snacks and cold meat and vegetable platters are available. Information: +36 84 545 034, info@zimekpalinka.hu. Address: Zamárdi, Endrédi út 061/24 Hrsz.

Csalló Pálinka Manufactory

Erected outside Balatonalmádi, in Vödörvölgy, Csalló Pálinka Manufactory was brought to life as a greenfield investment through a family cooperation, starting out with distilling pálinkas and spirits for various clients. Their own products are distributed on a small scale, but they are available at more than 20 venues all over the country from Sopron through Budapest all the way to Gyula. That’s all very fine, but what we really want you to do this fall is visit the Csalló Manufactory in person to explore the distillery, try their 50- and/or 42-degree pálinkas and even fry some bacon.

If there is a perfectly satisfying gastronomy activity you can engage in outdoors every season of the year, which also allows boys and girls to let their carefully concealed frivolousness come out and eat as much onion as they want, it’s melting salty pork fat onto a nice, thick slice of bread over a fire.  

Calling ahead before your visit is important: +36 30 9471 811, csallo@csallo.hu. Address: 8200 Veszprém, Ady E. u. 71./B. (company seat).

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