A case study comparing distillation technologies for plum palinka production
Keywords: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.
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