Gemenc Whiskey … from Hungary!

Last week I had the opportunity to visit my long time internet friend Lajos Szöke. Lajos is not just a whiskey aficionado, I guess he is fond of  Make It Yourself in general. When I visited Lajos and his wife, I learned they don’t “just” make whiskey, but that they grow their own dades and make their own syrups and marmalade as well!

The distillery Lajos operates is situated in the small, yet pitoresque village of Pörböly, in the south of Hungary, close to the Danube river. The region is called “Gemenc”, and hence the name of his distillery: Gemenc Distillery.

Curious to find out why Lajos doesn’t make pálinka, Hungarian fruit brandy, like everyone else, the answer I got was easy: “Everybody already makes pálinka. Nobody makes whiskey over here. I love whiskey. And Hungary has more to offer than fruits … there’s a large areal of wheat, rye, and barley as well.” Clear and simple.

Lajos makes his whiskey in what I’d call an “American Style”. No single malts for Gemenc Distillery. Instead, he likes to play around with multiple grains in his grain bill. He does a one pass distillation run on his 4 plated copper still. Heads and Tails are separated and discarded. Hearts are very smooth and go in oak barrels for a few years. Lajos told me he ages his whiskies at 65%. And after ageing, he bottles at cask strength, which is around 62 to 63%.

“Various people like their whiskey at various strengths. By providing them with cask strength only, each and everyone of my customers can decide to dilute it to the alcohol percentage they like best,” he adds.

I tasted a variety of the Gemenc Distillery whiskies and they showed great character. Still young, yet smooth. Nice, dark brown colour. The rye really shines through!

Lajos, I want to thank you for a great afternoon! I will be back later this year and hope we can do that distillation run together!

Here’s a few pictures to give you and idea of Lajos and the Gemenc Distillery: IMG_2818

Lajos, his wife, and my wife’s uncle tasting Gemenc Whiskies …


Mash tun and fermenters …


The Gemenc Distillery (and maybe an iStill One in the future?) …


Lajos and Odin in front of the Gemenc Distillery’s logo …


Flex those muscles, Odin!


Small cask barrel ageing …

For more information on Lajos’ Gemenc Distillery, please see:

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