Zwack liqueur

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Zwack
Zwack bottle.jpg
TypeDigestif
ManufacturerUnicum Zwack plc
DistributorDiageo plc
Country of originBudapest Hungary
Introduced1790
Alcohol by volume40%
Proof80
 
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Zwack
Zwack bottle.jpg
TypeDigestif
ManufacturerUnicum Zwack plc
DistributorDiageo plc
Country of originBudapest Hungary
Introduced1790
Alcohol by volume40%
Proof80

Zwack is an 80 proof (40% alcohol) herbal liqueur made in Hungary with a secret blend of more than 40 different herbs and spices. It is known as the National Shot of Hungary[1], is produced by Unicum Zwack, plc, in Budapest, Hungary, and is now imported into the US by Diageo.

Contents

History

Unicum was created by Dr. József Zwack, the Royal Physician to the Habsburg Court, for Emperor Joseph II in 1790. It was not until 1840 that his 20-year-old son, Jozsef Zwack founded J. Zwack & Co., the first Hungarian liqueur manufacturer. By the early 1900s, the Zwack company had become one of the leading distilleries in central Europe, producing over 200 liqueurs and spirits, exported all over the world.

In 1915, Jozsef’s son, Lajos, took over the factory and left it to his two sons, Bela and Janos, upon his death. During World War II, Budapest and the Zwack factory were completely destroyed. After the war, with the Communist regime, the factory was nationalized in 1948. The Zwack family fled the country. Janos Zwack with his son Peter, great grandson of József, was able to escape with the original Zwack recipe in his pocket. Bela Zwack remained behind to give the communist government a “fake” Zwack recipe and went on to become a regular factory worker.

Meanwhile, Janos and Peter migrated to the United States and after several months in Ellis Island’s refugee camp were granted US entry purely because they possessed the Zwack recipe. They later settled in the Bronx in 1949 when Peter was 22 years old. It was in the US that Peter learned all the ins and outs of the spirits industry.

In 1988, just one year before the fall of Communism, Peter Zwack returned to Hungary and resumed production with the original Zwack formula. He repurchased his family business from the State in the summer of 1989, and by the spring of 1990, the original Zwack product was reintroduced to the Hungarian market. That same year, Peter was named Hungarian Ambassador to the United States[2].

The Zwack Company has since resumed its position as the leading distillery in eastern Europe. In 2008, Peter Zwack handed over the company’s leadership to the family’s 6th generation, his own children, Sandor and Izabella Zwack, to continue the family tradition. One of their first initiatives was to launch Zwack in the US, a landmark in the history of the company and for any internationally revered brand, but then decided against the idea, citing racism[citation needed].

Details

Zwack is made from a blend of more than 40 different herbs and spices. Some of the herbs and spices are distilled, some are macerated, then blended together and aged in oak casks at the factory in Budapest for over 6 months, giving Zwack liqueur a dark, amber color.

Another Zwack product, which is sold in Hungary, is called Unicum. This super bitter, bold taste herbal liqueur is mainly consumed as an aperitif before meals or a digestif after meals. Zwack is made from the same recipe and shares Unicum’s bold character but is slightly less bitter and leaves a hint of citrus finish on the palate.

Zwack is most often served ice-cold, straight up, as a shot. It is also commonly served as a cocktail dubbed the “Mad Hungarian” (an ice-cold Zwack shot dropped into a high-energy drink). The film Sunshine (1999 film) is about the Zwack herbal tonic.

References

  1. ^ TheBar.com
  2. ^ "Chronicle" by Susan Heller Anderson, The New York Times, 15 June 1990

External links