A case study comparing distillation technologies for plum palinka production


  • Péter Korzenszky Szent István University, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Department of Agriculture and Food Machinery, Páter K. u. 1., 2100, Gödöllő, Hungary, Tel.: +3628522000
  • Gábor Barátossy National Food Chain Safety Office, Budaörsi út 141-145. 1118, Budapest, Hungary, Tel.: +361346-0949
  • László Székely Szent István University, Institute of Mathematics and Basic Science, Department of Mathematics, Páter K. u. 1., 2100, Gödöllő, Hungary, Tel.: +3628522000 https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2608-8365
  • Gábor Géczi Szent István University, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Institute of Process Engineering, Department of Enviromental and Building Engineering, Páter K. u. 1., 2100, Gödöllő, Hungary, Tel.: +3628522000 https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0909-7131




plum palinka, distillation, pot-still double distillation, rectification column


Palinka production has a long tradition in Hungary and the neighboring countries. Previously, the fruit distillate was produced exclusively using the traditional Pot-Still Double Distillation (PSDD) technology. This distillation method means, in practice, a simple fractional distillation repeated twice. However, in other industries, such as the petroleum industry or the pharmaceutical industry, a continuous, so-called repeated distillation procedure is used (RCDS – Rectification Column Distillation Systems). In the production of palinka, the latter procedure has gained more and more ground in recent years, thus displacing the traditional technology. In the territory of today’s Hungary, there are more than 16,000 registered private palinka distillers. However, based on public databases, it is not possible to know the proportion of the two different palinka making processes used in palinka production. The two processes differ to a large degree. The amount of hearts obtained using the continuous operation plate rectification column (RCDS) is lower, while its alcohol content is very high: 75 –
90 vol%, depending on the fruit. On the other hand, when using the traditional pot-still double distillation (PSDD) method, the amount of hearts is higher, but its alcohol content is lower (60 – 70%). The continuous procedure, also called single-stage, is faster. This is one of the reasons for its popularity because it makes production more economical. The objective of our research was to find out whether a significant difference could be detected between the two plum palinkas produced using the two different distillation technologies, based on current legal requirements. Our research also included sensory testing to determine whether consumers could distinguish between the products manufactured in different ways. Our analyses were carried out in 2019 in the accredited laboratory of the National Food Chain Safety Office and among the students and staff of the Gödöllő campus of Szent István University.


Download data is not yet available.


Balcerek, M., Pielech-Przybylska, K., Patelski, P., Dziekońska-Kubczak, U., Strąk, E. 2017. The effect of distillation conditions and alcohol content in ‘heart’ fractions on the concentration of aroma volatiles and undesirable compounds in plum brandies. J. Inst. Brew, vol. 123, no. 3, p. 452-463. https://doi.org/10.1002/jib.441

Claus, M. J., Berglund, K. A. 2005. Fruit brandy production by batch column distillation with reflux. Journal of Food Process Engineering, vol. 28, no. 1, p. 53-67. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-4530.2005.00377.x

Deák, E., Gyepes, A., Stefanovits-Bányai, É., Dernovics, M. 2010. Determination of ethyl carbamate in pálinka spirits by liquid chromatography–electrospray tandem mass spectrometry after derivatization. Food Research International, vol. 43, no. 10, p. 2452-2455. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2010.09.014

Fodor, M., Hlédik, E., Totth, G. 2011. Consumer Opinions and Preferencies on the Market of Palinka Élelmiszer, Táplálkozás és Marketing, vol. 8, no 1-2. p. 41-47. (in Hungarian)

García-Llobodanin, L., Ferrando, M., Güell, C., López, F. 2008. Pear distillates: influence of the raw material used on final quality. Eur. Food Res. Technol., vol. 228, p. 75-82. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-008-0908-9

Géczi, G., Korzenszky, P., Nagygyörgy, L. 2018. Analytical and Sensory Testing of Palinkas Made with Different Distillation Technologies. Hungarian Agricultural Research, vol. 27, no. 3, p. 4-9.

Gössinger, M., Eitner, C., Vogl, K. 2012. Impact of several processing parameters on important parameters of counter-current distillation of apple mash. Mitteilungen Klosterneuburg, Rebe und Wein, Obstbau und Früchteverwertung, vol. 62, no. 1, p. 45-55.

Harcsa, I. M. 2018. From the „just for the naked public good” drink to the Hungaricum; the faith of the pálinka. (in Hungarian) Régiókutatás Szemle, vol. 1, 12 p. https://doi.org/10.30716/RSZ/2018/1/4

Harcsa, I. M. 2017a. Energy demand for pálinka production and some practical issues of waste treatment. Economic and Regional Studies, vol. 10, no. 3, p. 82-95. https://doi.org/10.2478/ers-2017-0027

Harcsa, I. M. 2017b. Increasing Palinka Recognition with tourism and gastronomy. Applied Studies in Agribusiness and Commerce, vol. 11, no. 3-4, p. 37-44. https://doi.org/10.19041/APSTRACT/2017/3-4/6

Ismail, H. M. M., Williams, A. A., Tucknott, O. G. 1980. The flavour components of plum. Z Lebensm Unters Forch, vol. 171, p. 24-27. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01044413

Jakubíková, M., Sádecká, J., Hroboňová, K. 2019. Classification of plum brandies based on phenol and anisole compounds using HPLC. Eur Food Res Technol, vol. 245, p. 1709-1717. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-019-03291-3

Jurica, K., Brčić Karačonji, I., Lasić, D., Vukić Lušić, D., Anić Jurica, S., Lušić, D. 2016. Determination of phthalates in plum spirit and their occurrence during plum spirit production. Acta Alimentaria, vol. 45, no. 1, p. 141-148. https://doi.org/10.1556/066.2016.45.1.17

Kassai, Z., Káposzta, J., Ritter, K., Dávid, L., Nagy, H., Farkas, T. 2016. The Territorial Significance Of Food Hungaricums: The Case Of Pálinka, Romanian Journal of Regional Science, vol. 10, no. 2, p. 64-84.

Kovács, A. G., Szöllősi, A., Szöllősi, D., Panyik, I. A., Nagygyörgy, L., Hoschke, Á., Nguyen, Q. D. 2018. Classification and Identification of Three Vintage Designated Hungarian Spirits by Their Volatile Compounds. Periodica Polytechnica Chemical Engineering, vol. 62, no. 2, p. 175-181. https://doi.org/10.3311/PPch.11078

László, Z., Hodúr, C., Csanádi, J. 2016. “Pálinka”: Hungarian Distilled Fruit. In Oliveira, J., Kristbergsson, K. Traditional foods. New York, USA : Springer, p. 313-318. ISBN 978-14899-76482. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-7648-2_24

Molnár, M. A., Márki, E., Vatai, G. 2016. Preparation of apple spirit by ceramic pervaporation membrane. Acta Alimentaria, vol. 45, no. 4, p. 551-557. https://doi.org/10.1556/066.2016.45.4.12

Monakhova, Y. B., Kuballa, T., Lachenmeier, D. W. 2012. Rapid Quantification of Ethyl Carbamate in Spirits Using NMR Spectroscopy and Chemometrics. International Scholarly Research Network Analytical Chemistry, 5 p. https://doi.org/10.5402/2012/989174

MSZ 9600:2016. Guidelines for sensory analysis of spirit drinks.

Nagygyörgy, L. 2010. Basics of palinka making. Budapest, Hungary : Wessling International Research and Educational Centre, 130 p. ISBN 978-9630803229.

Nagygyörgy, L. 2016. The effect of dephlegmation on distillate composition. Journal of Food Investigation vol. 62, no. 4, p. 1261-1275.

Nagyová, Ľ., Andocsová, A., Géci, A., Zajác, P., Palkovič, J., Košičiarová, I., Golian, J. 2019. Consumers´ Awareness of Food Safety. Potravinarstvo Slovak Journal of Food Sciences, vol. 13, no. 1, p. 8-17. https://doi.org/10.5219/1003

Panyik, G. 2018. Palinka Brewing - Making soaked brandy and liqueur. Budapest, Hungary : Cser Kiadó. 116 p. ISBN 978-9632785462. (in Hungarian)

Pecić, S., Veljović, M., Despotović, S., Leskošek-Čukalović, I., Jadranin, M., Tešević, V., Nikšić, M., Nikićević, N. 2012. Effect of maturation conditions on sensory and antioxidant properties of old Serbian plum brandies. Eur. Food Res. Technol., vol. 235, p. 479-487. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-012-1775-y

Portugal, C. B., Alcarde, A. R., Bortoletto, A. M., Paron de Silva, A. 2016. The role of spontaneous fermentation for the production of cachaça: a study of case. Eur. Food Res. Technol., vol. 242, p. 1587-1597. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-016-2659-3

Regulation (EC) No 110/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council Regulation (EEC) No 1576/89. OJ L 39. 13.2.2008, p. 16-54.

Regulation (EC) No 2870/2000 of 19 December 2000 laying down Community reference methods for the analysis of spirits drinks. Official Journal L 333, 29/12/2000 P. 0020 - 0046

Rodríguez-Bencomo, J. J., Pérez-Correa, J. R., Orriols, I., López F. 2016. Spirit Distillation Strategies for Aroma Improvement Using Variable Internal Column Reflux. Food Bioprocess Technol., vol. 9, p. 1885-1892. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11947-016-1776-0

Rodríguez-Solana, R., Galego, L. R., Pérez-Santín, E., Romano, A. 2018. Production method and varietal source influence the volatile profiles of spirits prepared from fig fruits (Ficus carica L.). Eur. Food Res. Technol., vol. 244, p. 2213-2229. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-018-3131-3

Sádecká, J., Jakubíková, M., Májek, P., Kleinová, A., 2016. Classification of plum spirit drinks by synchronous fluorescence spectroscopy. Food Chemistry, vol. 196, p. 783-790. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.10.001

Satora, P., Kostrz, M., Sroka, P., Tarko, T. 2017. Chemical profile of spirits obtained by spontaneous fermentation of different varieties of plum fruits. Eur. Food Res. Technol., vol. 243, p. 489-499. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-016-2762-5

Satora, P., Tuszyński T. 2008. Chemical characteristics of Śliwowica Łącka and other plum brandies. J. Sci. Food Agric., vol. 88, no. 1, p. 167-174. https://doi.org/10.1002/jsfa.3067

Śliwińska, M., Wiśniewska, P., Dymerski, T., Wardencki, W., Namieśnik, J. 2016. Evaluation of the suitability of electronic nose based on fast GC for distinguishing between the plum spirits of different geographical origins. Eur. Food Res. Technol., vol. 242, p. 1813-1819 https://doi.org/10.1007/s00217-016-2680-6

Szegedyné Fricz, Á., Szakos, D., Bódi, B., Kasza, G. 2017 Palinka: consumer knowledge, preferences, consumption habits, marketing opportunities. Gazdálkodás, vol. 61, no. 2, p. 158-170.

Velíšek, J., Pudil, F., Davídek, J., Kubelka, V. 1982. The neutral volatile components of Czechoslovak plum brandy. Z Lebensm. Unters. Forch., vol. 174, p. 463-466. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01042726

Zheng, J., Liang, R., Huang, J., Zhou, R .P., Chen, Z. J., Wu, C. D., Zhou, R. Q., Liao, X. P. 2014. Volatile Compounds of Raw Spirits from Different Distilling Stages of Luzhou-flavor Spirit. Food Science and Technology Research, vol. 20, no. 2, p. 283-293. https://doi.org/10.3136/fstr.20.283

Zsótér, B., Molnár, A. 2015. Examining the effects of changes in legislation (2010) related to the production of brandy in practice - production conditions, tax obligations. Jelenkori társadalmi és gazdasági folyamatok, vol. 10, no. 2, p. 35-52. https://doi.org/10.14232/jtgf.2015.2.35-52 (in Hungarian)



How to Cite

Korzenszky, P., Barátossy, G., Székely, L., & Géczi, G. (2020). A case study comparing distillation technologies for plum palinka production. Potravinarstvo Slovak Journal of Food Sciences, 14, 1191–1199. https://doi.org/10.5219/1472