Bestillo – Boldog. Kő. Vár.

Móni, Gábor, Klári and Zsolt. Two married couples, four good friends. Three of them are from Boldogkőváralja, while Klári is from the Balaton area. Always together at school, then at weekends in the picturesque castle. “We had a friend who put a caravan at the foot of the castle and ran a snack bar from it. I think it was the three of us who kept it in business. We started Bestillo in 2003 and ever since we’ve regretted it hundreds of times. But by now, everybody has arrived home,” says Móni, who used to work as an advisor. Klári was the second person and worked for an American company. Zsolt was a manager at a stockbrokers and Gábor was a building engineer. The four of them together are Bestillo pálinka today. 

Gábor: When we buy the fruit, we don’t say that it will be used for pálinka. Everything comes in small cases with the quality of the fruit good enough for eating. The growers would think that we’re crazy if they knew their fruit was going for pálinka. We select the best fruit and the farmers often don’t understand it. We don’t harvest from the ground but from the trees, we harvest the perfectly healthy and ripe fruit. We take the stones and seeds out of each and every fruit after they are selected and washed. I’m most excited about [regular] apricot and that’s what I like working with here as well, in the land of the Gönc apricot. If necessary, we walk through the rows several times. We collect the apricots here from 8-10 consecutive harvests. We select, as people do with grapes. 

Móni: But that’s not the only way in which pálinka is similar to grapes and wine. We are convinced that in our hilly region, apricots are more exciting than those that are harvested on flat land. An average person, like me, is happy to be able to say what fruit is put into their glasses. Gábor, who distils the fruit, feels a ‘bit’ more than that. For example, he shows me a glass: “Look, I distilled Lepotica plum today and its aromas are completely like violets”. And indeed violets are there, but I wouldn’t pick that up by myself. 

Klári: And then here come Gábor’s new ‘children’. Now, it’s mainly plum. He selects the fruit from the neighbouring farmers from Zemplén to Bodrogköz. Most of our pálinkas are blends within the varieties as well: made from several types of Gönc apricots and plums.

In 2016, the plums were so good that Gábor is also planning a plum selection for Christmas. Our big blend will be made from six varieties, mashed according to variety and then distilled separately. And if we are mentioning the Muscat plum, there’s the Muscat grape as well. Gábor blended a Grape-plum pálinka from these, which will be bottled in mid-October.

Zsolt: At the time of picking, we give work to 50 people, and employ eight all year around. We sprayed 12 times this year, but not with chemicals. We used immunity boosting sprays so that the crop should be really nice this year. The Penyige plum, for example, comes from the flood plain of the Tisza, while the wild cherries are collected from the forest by a medicinal herb expert. We take the stones out of them and he takes them to germinate to save the varieties. Not a single stone should break because that would make the pálinka bitter. A good pálinka is pure, spicy and fruity – the same as the fruit that it was distilled from. It evokes memories – summer, childhood, the banks of the River Tisza, or the plum and sour cherry trees lining the main street of the village.



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