The 225 year old family secret
Distilled from over forty herbs, Unicum is one of the oldest herb liqueurs in Europe. The way of production and the secret recipe has remained the same since Unicum was invented in 1790 and after six generations is still in the Zwack family. Now we reveal some of the secrets.
The majority of the herbs, and spices used in Unicum comes from the Carpathian basin, but ingredients are also imported from Morocco, China, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Americas and Australia. The herbs are measured by hand to this day, while some special ingredients, known as the „heart” of Unicum, are personally weighed out by a family member, currently by Péter Zwack’s widow, Anne Marshall Zwack.
The 2 ways of extracting flavour/fragrance is maceration and distillation. In the case of Unicum half the herbs are macerated, the others are distilled. Sometimes the same herb is used in maceration and distillation. During maceration, the herbs are immersed in corn alcohol, a process that gives intensive, rich taste to the drink.
Blending in wooden vat
The macerated and distilled herbs are then blended together in a traditional wooden vat. To ensure that the Unicum should be consistent in quality, the Master Distiller together with a Tasting committee, headed by a member of the family, frequently taste the Unicum from the vat.
Ageing in oak casks
Ageing in oak casks confers on Unicum the final complexities in taste and bouquet. Unicum has been aged in oak ever since it was invented in 1790. In a labyrinth of cellars running under the Soroksári Road distillery Unicum today is aged in 500 oak casks.