A brief history of distilling in Poland

Distillate as medicine

The distillation process is already known, but in Poland, stronger alcohols are used only for medicinal purposes, by alchemists and perfumers. People drink wine and beer.

13th and 14th centuries

Distillation of rye and wheat

The start of production of rye and wheat distillates translates into recreational consumption of strong alcohol in Poland.

15th century

Propination laws

The Polish Parliament grants the nobility the privilege of producing and selling alcoholic beverages within their own properties. Previously, drinks had to come from royal cities.

1496

Time of drunkenness

The social effects of easy access to alcohol are noticeable. Poles are known for their taste for drinking in large quantities. The Pope intervenes.

16th century

The conquest of Europe

Poland begins to export spirits abroad (e.g. to Germany, England, France). There are 680 distilleries in the port city of Gdańsk alone.

17th century

Demoralisation of society

The drunkenness of society is having increasingly serious effects. Drunken soldiers (including commanders) flee the battle of Korsuń even before the arrival of their opponents – the Tatars.

1648

Intensive growth of distilling

Polish alcohols are gaining better quality, more and more professional factories with modern equipment (e.g. Lubomirski’s) are being built. Thanks to double distillation, the alcohol content of the spirit reaches 70%.

late 18th and early 19th centuries

Rectification

Rectification apparatus appears in Poland and Russia. The tables are filled with pure vodka, in line with today’s definition of this alcohol, i.e. made by diluting 95% rectified spirit.

1880s-1990s

State Spirits Monopoly

The beginning of the Second Polish Republic is the moment of establishing the State Spirit Monopoly. Private distilleries are being bought up and nationalised, with production limits imposed on them.

1919

Polmos in the Polish People's Republic

The Polish Spirits Monopoly (or Polmos) continues the monopoly on spirit started during the Second Polish Republic. The number of types of vodka available is shrinking drastically, and the better quality spirits are only available in pewex shops.

after 1945
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