The first shot in the war between whisky (specifically scotch whisky) and the Hungarian fruit brandy pálinka was fired by columnist György Szalma on opinion portal Mandiner, in which the author went as far as to say that “the Anglo-Saxon nations in their great inventiveness (…) are able to sell for good money the world’s lowliest spirit by marketing it as a lifestyle, an image”. Adding insult to injury, he called whisky “foot-washing water”.
Such insults, of course, could not not be tolerated in the whisky camp. So one of them, only identified as Friar Malt (maláta barát) countered with saying that “the seed of hatred took roots in the deep Hungarian soil, fetishizing the local drink as a demigod”.
Friar Malt – as opposed to Szalma – is of the opinion that disparaging whisky just because it originates from grains as opposed to fruits is an infantile argument at best and the Scots should rather be admired for their ingenuity in making the best of their limited resources and building a multi-billion industry as well as one of the richest aroma varieties in the world of distilled spirits.
Szalma says that in the past even the British only drank whisky to sanitize water in the distant provinces but given a choice, even they preferred Spanish sherry. Friar Malt, on the other hand, says that while he also enjoys the occasional pálinka, the ugly truth is that home-brewed pálinka is borderline unpalatable and can by no means stand up to whisky.
Szalma, however, concluded his opinion piece by stating – something Malt Friar ignored completely – that while pálinka comes closest to being lovable, no distilled spirit is worth such affection. The only alcoholic drink that carries a higher, spiritual meaning is wine.