Zwack Unicum Museum
Unicum is a traditional Hungarian liquor created in 1790 by Dr. Jozef Zwack who was the royal physician for the Hapsburg Dynasty. It was originally used as an aid for indigestion, but apparently, people loved the stuff because soon after it was first made, the drink received the royal seal of approval and then, J. Zwack and Co were born.
The recipe is kept a secret by the Zwack family to this day. People have tried countless times to recreate it but to no avail. There is a table of aromatic herbs in the museum that might be used in the recipe, but unless you are a Zwack, you'll never know!
Unicum is a very bitter spirit and is enjoyed as a shot in social settings or after a meal. It's an acquired taste and if I am perfectly honest, I don't like it. Shocking, I know.
Despite my distaste for it, I wanted to tour the factory and learn more about this disgusting liquor that is so popular and it ended up being a pretty enjoyable experience.
The Unicum factory is located a bit outside the city center, but easy enough to get to on a bus or taxi.
Once I arrived, I bought my ticket and then browsed all the Unicum products in the store while I waited for my tour to begin. I should have bought a bottle or two to take home. I mean, I may get a case of indigestion and need it.
After about 10 min, I was summoned into a room to watch a film which told the history of Unicum and the family who started it.
Once the video finished, the guide took us to the place where the magic happens!
Thank goodness the smell wasn't as bad as the taste.
We were first shown the distillery where we learned about the method used for extraction. They have used the same method for over 100 years!
Then we were shown an array of herbs that may or may not be part of the Unicum recipe. We got to smell them and guess which herbs were what. I didn't get very many right.
Last but not least, we were shown the Unicum cellar where more than 500 oak barrels (wowzers!) are aged for half a year. This is the point where we got to have two tastings. We got to try the regular Unicum and the Unicum plum straight from the oak barrels.
I can't say I enjoyed that part too much.
At this point, the tour was done and we got to continue on to the museum portion of the factory at our own pace.
The museum had relics belonging to the Zwack family and lots of pictures showcasing the family and the companies growth over the years. They also have 17,000 mini bottles on display which is the biggest mini bottle collection in Central Europe (I didn't even know mini bottle collecting was a thing!)
If you have the time, I highly recommend checking out the Unicum Factory. Whether you like Unicum or not it was a really fascinating & fun experience.
Address: Budapest, Dandár u. 1, 1095 Hungary
Monday – Saturday: from 10 am to 5 pm
Adult: HUF 2,000 (includes a tasting session)
Senior & Group Tickets: HUF 1,700 (includes a tasting session)
Child & student under 18: HUF 1,000