Unicum

Budapest, budapest Hungary

The Zwack family gained fame by creating Unicum, the Hungarian nation's favourite liqueur. Production moved to Italy for a period during the Communist regime, then returned in 1989 to a distillery in Budapest that has stood on the banks of the river Danube for more than 150 years and is currently run by the Zwack family.

Unicum is made to a secret recipe of more than 40 herbs and spices, which are sourced from various parts of the world. 50% are macerated in corn alcohol, the other 50% distilled, before being blended and aged in old French oak casks for six months before bottling. Traditionally drunk as an after-dinner digestif, it is thick, intense and dark brown in colour, with herbal, eucalyptus, almost medicinal aromas. Served cool, with one or two ice cubes, Unicum has an attractive balance.

The name is believed to have been given by the Hapsburg Emperor in 1790, who pronounced the liqueur 'unique' after his physician, Dr Joseph Zwack, gave him a spoonful to drink. Today, it has become a highly sought-after drink in top New York bars under the slogan "bitter is better", a reference to its 'amaro' (or bitter) style.

 

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