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In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland, pálenka is any kind of distilled beverage, but especially fruit brandy. The term is often used generically for all kinds of liquors, including vodka, gin and borovička.[1] The word derives from the Slavonic stem "páliť", to burn (in a meaning to distil).

Similar products exist in Austria and Hungary under the name pálinka.

Most traditional types of pálenka in Moravia and Slovakia are slivovica (plum spirit), ražná (grain spirit), borovička (a special kind of liquor distilled from the berries of Juniperus communis), hruškovica (pear spirit), jablkovica (apple spirit). Popular are also čerešňovica (cherry spirit) and marhuľovica (apricot spirit). Very distinctive among pálenkas are the ones distilled from fermented forest berries, including raspberries, blueberries, wild black thorn (planá trnka) and cranberries. Drienkovica (a spirit distilled from Cornelian cherries (Cornus mas) was popularized by the former Slovak president Rudolf Schuster.

Less common now but historically popular distillates include jeřabinka (made from Rowan berries) and kontušovka (cs) (made from vodka, and flavoured with star anise and other spices, and sweetened with honey). The latter was quite popular prior to the First World War, and features prominently in the works of Jaroslav Hasek, Petr Bezruč and Sigmund Freud.[2]

See also[edit]

  • Slivovitz (slivovica, slivovice) - a plum brandy, the most famous among fruit spirits
  • Pálinka, name of the same liquor as pálenka adopted in Hungary
  • Rakia, a similar brandy made throughout Southeastern Europe
  • Țuică, an alcoholic drink in Romania, quite similar to Slivovitz.