iStill Apricot Brandy / Palinka!


This post teaches you how you can make an amazing apricot brandy. What equipment you need, what procedures you need to follow and more. Elaborate and with lots of pictures. And since I am doing this in Hungary, home to the famous family of fruit brandies called “Palinka”, I will end with giving this iStill Blog post a Hungarian twist …

What you need


  • iStill (100, 500, 2000 or 5000);
  • iStill Extractor Column to match your boiler size (25, 120 or 450 liter).

In this example I used an iStill 100 Manual with the “normal” column as well as the 25 liter Extractor Column.


  • Apricots (I used dried ones).


Make GNS or vodka with the iStill or buy in GNS. Put some 55 liters at 50% in the boiler. Cut the dried apricots in half, put them in bags, put the bags in the Extractor Column and do 6 or 7 extraction cycles. The resulting 50% essence can now be used to make a variety of drinks. Just add some to your boiler, add the “normal” iStill column and do a finishing run. Underneath are a few examples of how to use the essence, with a Hungarian twist …

Hungarian Twist

Hungarians love their Palinka. And the stuff especially the men seem to like most is the variety called “Hazi Palinka”. Housemade Palinka would be an adequate enough translation. Hazi Palinka is strong (52 – 54%), headsy and very, very tailsy. Most professionals would find it in between “undrinkable” and “poorly made”, but this is how the macho part of the Hungarian populace (close to 50%) likes it. If you can drink it and hold it in without coughing, crying, or wetting your pants … well, in that case you are a real man!

To cater to the wishes of my Hungarian family in law, the first thing I made with the above apricot essence  was a real Hazi Palinka. It is 55% strong, has a Heads cut of only 0.1 liters, while the Tails cut came in at 98 Celsius only. Did I succeed? Oh yes! This drink brings tears to a grown man’s eyes!

The second thing I made with the apricot essence is a fruit brandy Odin style. A slightly reduced ABV (50%), bigger Heads and Tails cuts, and in general a slower (lower vapor speeds!) finishing run.

The third thing I made? A so-called “Mezes Palinka”. This is a Palinka sweetened with (acacia) honey. I bottled it at 45%, stil quite high, but in all three drinks I want to preserve some of the “Hazi”-ness, if you get what I mean. In plain English: these are no drinks for the faint-hearted!

Step by Step, Picture by Picture

Cut the dried apricots in half and put them in bags …


Put the bags in the Extractor Column …


Do an extraction run …


Clean out the Extractor and compare fresh apricots with used ones …


This is the resulting apricot essence … summer sunlight caught in a bottle …


Use it to make Hazi Palinka …


Or to make the delicious honey infused Mezes Palinka …


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