An insight into the secrets of the schnapps production

Visiting Zoltán Horváth and the Bedi distillery in Števanovci


Not everyone knows how to produce good, homemade schnapps. Three men who understand how to do it are Zoltán Horváth, Tibor’s uncle, and the Bedi brothers, the owners of a distillery. They introduce us to their craft.


Števanovci, late summer 2007


Visibly honoured Zoltán Horváth shows us the certificate he was awarded with by a committee of Slovene judges in Otovci (Slovenia) for his homemade schnapps. He came in first in a regional competition in 2002. We congratulate him on his diploma and ask him to explain to us the manufacturing process of his homemade schnapps, which he agrees to do. The „Šoline“-Haus in Števanovci, the farmhouse where Tibor’s grandparents used to live and where his uncle is still living, is surrounded by many apple and plum trees. Late summer 2007 seems to become a heavy crop year, since the branches of the plum trees can hardly bear the large amount of the ripe plums. The plums, which Zoltán Horváth picks by hand supported by a self-made “arm-like tool”, are stored in a room that also serves as an implement shed. He leads us to the inside of the shed and shows us the large blue plastic barrels displaying his initials, in which the fruit mash (primarily plum mash) is stored. He proudly shows us his recently stored plums and apples. While stirring the plum mash he draws our attention to some yellow plum pieces, which float on the surface due to the motion caused by a wooden pole. This is a sign for the steady process of fermentation, says Zoltán Horváth. Furthermore, he explains that he always pits the fruit, in order to avoid a bitter taste in the final product schnapps and that he, in contrast to many industrial companies, never adds any sugar to his fruit. The sugar needlessly stretches the schnapps, which thus becomes less pure and valuable, he says. After a fermentation period of two to three months in the (almost) airproof barrels, his precious merchandise is delivered to József Bedi’s distillery in Števanovci by a carrier where the mash is distilled to schnapps. After this final step in the schnapps production, Zoltán Horváth fills the schnapps into bottles and sells it. We also purchase a bottle of his homemade schnapps and trust in its healing effect; provided one consumes it in moderation.


Števanovci, 01/02/2008


After Zoltán Horváth has demonstrated how he picks the fruit for his award-winning schnapps, and how the process of fermentation proceeds, we were also interested in finding out where and above all how the fermented plum mash is then being processed. József Bedi, the owner of a distillery in Števanovci, a regular customer of which is also Zoltán Horváth, kindly agreed on giving us an insight into distillation. Bedi József’s brother depicts us how high proof schnapps can be extracted from the fruit mash that has been fermented for months. First of all the mash is heated in a kind of heater to a temperature, in which alcohol starts vaporising. This steam evaporates from the mash and moves upward through a tube to the first container, where it precipitates. From this first container, the freshly precipitated alcohol is transferred to a smaller kettle, where it is once again heated. Afterwards the steam flows through another tube into a second container, where it is cooled down. In this second distillation process the schnapps is being refined. In another step, the chilled alcohol flows out of the distiller into a pot. At first the schnapps (ethanol) drips into the container; until distillation is fully complete the schnapps has been reduced from originally 80 percent by volume to well-tolerated 40 percent by volume and is then ready to be filled into bottles. The mash remainders are brought by a wooden pushcart to a self-made refuse pit behind the house, where they are temporally stored before being disposed in an official dumpsite. We do not miss the opportunity to taste one, two (very generously filled…) glasses of this 100% homemade schnapps. Cheers and a happy new year, or as you say in Raba Region Slovene: „Na zdravje pa srečno nauvo leto“!


                 Pictures                                                                          Tibor Horváth / Joël Gerber


We thank Mr Zoltán Horváth and the Bedi brothers very much for their interesting introduction to the world of distillation.