Hungarian finance minister stands up for home distillation

The Hungarian government will continue its efforts in the European Union to keep the tax-free status of home distillation, said Finance Minister Mihály Varga.

The Hungarian government will continue its efforts in the European Union to keep the tax-free status of home distillation, Finance Minister Mihály Varga said in a statement after the meeting of the EU's finance ministers (Ecofin Council).

He said while some member states oppose the tax-free status of home distillation on principle, others consider it acceptable under certain conditions.

Home distillation of fruit brandy (pálinka in Hungarian) is a centuries-old tradition and while it was alternately legal and illegal, it has remained a time-honored tradition especially in rural areas.

One of the first measures introduced by the conservative government that came to power in 2010 was the legalization of home distillation up to a certain amount and on condition that it must be for own (family) consumption only.

Currently, Hungarians are allowed to distill up to 86 liters of maximum 42-proof pálinka a year tax-free, only requiring the purchase of a HUF 700 excise stamp per liter. These spirits cannot be sold commercially.

Title image: ad for a commercially available home distillation kit.

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