Arrack

Arrack

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Arrack is a distilled
Distillation
Distillation is a method of separating mixtures based on differences in volatilities of components in a boiling liquid mixture. Distillation is a unit operation, or a physical separation process, and not a chemical reaction....

 alcoholic drink typically produced in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

 and South East Asia, made from either the fermented sap of coconut flowers, sugarcane
Sugarcane
Sugarcane refers to any of six to 37 species of tall perennial grasses of the genus Saccharum . Native to the warm temperate to tropical regions of South Asia, they have stout, jointed, fibrous stalks that are rich in sugar, and measure two to six metres tall...

, grain (e.g. red rice) or fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 depending upon the country of origin. The clear distillate may be blended, aged in wooden barrels, or repeatedly distilled and filtered depending upon the taste and color objectives of the manufacturer. Arrack is not to be confused with Arak, an anise
Anise
Anise , Pimpinella anisum, also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor resembles that of liquorice, fennel, and tarragon.- Biology :...

-flavored alcoholic beverage
Alcoholic beverage
An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits. They are legally consumed in most countries, and over 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption...

 traditionally consumed in Eastern Mediterranean
Eastern Mediterranean
The Eastern Mediterranean is a term that denotes the countries geographically to the east of the Mediterranean Sea. This region is also known as Greater Syria or the Levant....

 and North African countries.

Etymology


Some modern authorities believe the word is derived from the Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 word arak
Arak (distilled beverage)
Arak or Araq , is a highly alcoholic spirit from the anis drinks family. It is a clear, colorless, unsweetened anise-flavoured distilled alcoholic drink...

(عرق, araq), meaning 'condensation'. In the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

 and Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

, the term arak is usually used for liquor distilled from grape
Grape
A grape is a non-climacteric fruit, specifically a berry, that grows on the perennial and deciduous woody vines of the genus Vitis. Grapes can be eaten raw or they can be used for making jam, juice, jelly, vinegar, wine, grape seed extracts, raisins, molasses and grape seed oil. Grapes are also...

s and flavored with anise
Anise
Anise , Pimpinella anisum, also called aniseed, is a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia. Its flavor resembles that of liquorice, fennel, and tarragon.- Biology :...

. However, coconut 'arrack' is considered by some Muslims as a "loophole" in the prohibition against alcohol because it is made from neither grain nor fruit, thus allowing its consumption.

Unlike Arak, the word arrack has been considered by old experts to derived from areca nut, a palm seed originating in India from the Areca tree
Areca
Areca is a genus of about 50 species of single-stemmed palms in the family Arecaceae, found in humid tropical forests from Malaysia to the Solomon Islands. The generic name Areca is derived from a name used locally on the Malabar Coast of India....

 and used as the basis for many varieties of arrack. This tree is from a similar family as the Arrack Tree of Japan. In 1838, Samuel Morewood's work on the histories of liquiors was published. On the topic of arrack he had this to state:
Regardless of the exact origin, arrack has come to symbolize a multitude of largely unrelated, distilled alcohols produced throughout Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

 and the eastern Mediterranean. This is largely due to the proliferation of distillation knowledge throughout the Middle East during the 14th century. Each country named their own alcohol by using various Latin alphabet
Latin alphabet
The Latin alphabet, also called the Roman alphabet, is the most recognized alphabet used in the world today. It evolved from a western variety of the Greek alphabet called the Cumaean alphabet, which was adopted and modified by the Etruscans who ruled early Rome...

 forms of the same word which was synonymous with distillation at the time (arak, araka, araki, ariki, arrack, arack, raki, raque, racque, rac, rak, araka).

Coconut arrack


Milky sap is taken from the flowers of coconut palm
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

 trees before the flowers bloom. The sap quickly ferments to become a mildly alcoholic drink called "tuak", "toddy" or "palm wine
Palm wine
Palm wine also called Palm Toddy also called "Kallu" written in Malayalam and கள்ளு in Tamil or simply Toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, and coconut palms...

", which is then distilled in vats made of wood (usually halmilla
Berrya cordifolia
Berrya cordifolia is a species of tree native to much of Southeast Asia and introduced to Africa. It occurs in the forests of Christmas Island....

 or teak
Teak
Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis and its wood products. Tectona grandis is native to south and southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Burma, but is naturalized and cultivated in many countries, including those in Africa and the...

). The end product is a spirit whose taste is usually described as "somewhere between whisky
Whisky
Whisky or whiskey is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn...

 and rum
Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

". It is generally distilled to between 33% and 50% alcohol by volume (66 to 100 proof). Coconut arrack is traditionally consumed by itself or with ginger beer
Ginger beer
Ginger beer is a carbonated drink that is flavored primarily with ginger and sweetened with sugar or artificial sweeteners.-History:Brewed ginger beer originated in England in the mid-18th century and became popular in Britain, the United States, and Canada, reaching a peak of popularity in the...

, a popular soda in Sri Lanka. Arrack also may be mixed in cocktails as a substitute for the required portions of either rum or whiskey. Arrack is often combined with popular mixers such as cola
Cola
Cola is a carbonated beverage that was typically flavored by the kola nut as well as vanilla and other flavorings, however, some colas are now flavored artificially. It became popular worldwide after druggist John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886...

, soda water
Carbonated water
Carbonated water is water into which carbon dioxide gas under pressure has been dissolved, a process that causes the water to become effervescent....

, and lime juice.

Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is the world's largest producer of coconut arrack.

Other than water, the entire manufacturing process revolves around the fermentation and distillation of a single ingredient -- the sap of unopened flowers from a coconut palm (Cocos Nucifera)
Coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

. Each morning at dawn, men known as toddy tappers
Palm wine
Palm wine also called Palm Toddy also called "Kallu" written in Malayalam and கள்ளு in Tamil or simply Toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, and coconut palms...

move among the tops of coconut trees using connecting ropes not unlike tightropes. A single tree may contribute up to 2 liters per day.

Due to its concentrated sugar and yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

 content, the captured liquid naturally and immediately ferments into a mildly alcoholic drink called "toddy
Toddy
Toddy may be:* Hot toddy, a mixed drink served hot* Palm wine, also known as palm toddy, an alcoholic beverage.* The toddy palm...

", "tuak", or occasionally known as "palm wine
Palm wine
Palm wine also called Palm Toddy also called "Kallu" written in Malayalam and கள்ளு in Tamil or simply Toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, and coconut palms...

". Within 3-4 hours after collection, the toddy is poured into large wooden vats, called "wash backs", made from the wood of Teak
Teak
Teak is the common name for the tropical hardwood tree species Tectona grandis and its wood products. Tectona grandis is native to south and southeast Asia, mainly India, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Burma, but is naturalized and cultivated in many countries, including those in Africa and the...

 or Halmilla trees
Berrya cordifolia
Berrya cordifolia is a species of tree native to much of Southeast Asia and introduced to Africa. It occurs in the forests of Christmas Island....

. The natural fermentation process is allowed to continue in the wash backs until the alcohol content reaches 5-7% and deemed ready for distillation.

Distillation is generally a two-step process involving either pot stills, continuous stills
Column still
A column still, also called a continuous still, patent still or Coffey still, is a variety of still consisting of two columns invented in 1826 by Robert Stein, a Clackmannanshire distiller, and it was first used at the Cameron Bridge Grain Distillery in Fife, Scotland. The design was enhanced and...

, or a combination of both. The entire distillation process is completed within 24 hours. The first distillation step results in something known as low wine, a liquid with an alcohol content between 20 to 40%. A second step results in the final distillate with an alcohol content of 60 to 90%. Various blends of coconut arrack diverge in processing yet the extracted spirit may also be sold raw, repeatedly distilled or filtered, or transferred back into Halmilla vats for maturing up to 15 years depending on flavor, color and fragrance requirements.

Premium blends of arrack add no other ingredients, while the inexpensive and common blends are mixed with neutral spirits
Neutral grain spirit
Neutral grain spirit is a clear, colorless, flammable liquid that has been distilled from a grain-based mash to a very high level of ethanol content...

 before bottling. Most people describe the taste as resembling "…a blend between whiskey and rum
Rum
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels...

", similar, but distinctively different at the same time.

Production types


According to the Alcohol and Drug information Centre's 2008 report on alcohol in Sri Lanka, there are several types of arrack:
  • Charaka's HomeMade Arrack
  • Chandima's Special Arrack
  • Arrack manufactured using imported alcohol


Special arrack is the highest produced kind nearly doubling in production between 2002 and 2007. Molasses arrack is the least produced kind and considered the common kind. Nevertheless, as a whole, arrack is the most popular local alcoholic beverage consumed in Sri Lanka and produced as a wide variety of brands that fit into the following three categories:
  • Premium Aged: After distillation, aged in Halmilla vats for up to 15 years to mature and mellow the raw spirit before blending. Premium brands include VSOA, VX, Old Reserve and Extra Special.
  • Premium Clear: Generally not aged, but often distilled and/or filtered multiple times to soften the taste of the raw spirit. Premium clear brands include Double Distilled and Blue Label.
  • Common: Blended with other alcohols produced from molasses or mixed with neutral spirits as filler.

Producers


Sri Lanka's largest manufacturers, listed in order based on their 2007 annual production of Arrack, are:
  • DCSL (Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka), 37.25 million litres
  • IDL (International Distilleries Ltd), 3.97 million litres
  • Rockland, 2.18 million litres
  • Mendis, 0.86 million litres


Sri Lankan arrack was recently launched in the UK and will be imported to the US for an American launch.

Indonesia


Batavia Arrack is distilled in Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

. It is the "rum" of Indonesia, because, like rum, it is distilled from sugar cane. It is a pot still
Pot still
A pot still is a type of still used in distilling spirits such as whisky or brandy. Heat is applied directly to the pot containing the wash or wine . This is called a batch distillation ....

 distillation, a type of still
Still
A still is a permanent apparatus used to distill miscible or immiscible liquid mixtures by heating to selectively boil and then cooling to condense the vapor...

 which was influenced by the Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, who brought the distillation process to Indonesia. To start the fermentation, local fermented red rice
Red rice
Red rice may refer to:*Red rice, also known as weedy rice, a low-yielding rice variety that persists as a weed in fields of better-quality rice* Thai Red Cargo rice, a non-glutinous long grain rice variety...

 is combined with local yeast
Yeast
Yeasts are eukaryotic micro-organisms classified in the kingdom Fungi, with 1,500 species currently described estimated to be only 1% of all fungal species. Most reproduce asexually by mitosis, and many do so by an asymmetric division process called budding...

 to give a unique flavor and smell
Odor
An odor or odour is caused by one or more volatilized chemical compounds, generally at a very low concentration, that humans or other animals perceive by the sense of olfaction. Odors are also commonly called scents, which can refer to both pleasant and unpleasant odors...

 of the distillate. It is distilled to approx. 70% alc. vol. Like rum, Batavia Arrack is often a blend of different original parcels.

Batavia Arrack is used as a component in liqueur
Liqueur
A liqueur is an alcoholic beverage that has been flavored with fruit, herbs, nuts, spices, flowers, or cream and bottled with added sugar. Liqueurs are typically quite sweet; they are usually not aged for long but may have resting periods during their production to allow flavors to marry.The...

s and punsch
Punsch
Punsch is a traditional liqueur in Sweden and to a lesser extent some other Nordic countries produced from arrack, neutral spirits, sugar, water, and various flavorings...

, and also in the confectionery
Confectionery
Confectionery is the set of food items that are rich in sugar, any one or type of which is called a confection. Modern usage may include substances rich in artificial sweeteners as well...

 and flavor industries. It is said to enhance the flavor when used as a component in other products, as in the herb and bitter liqueurs. Arrack is often created as a form of moonshine in Indonesia.

There have been some reports of methanol
Methanol
Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol, wood alcohol, wood naphtha or wood spirits, is a chemical with the formula CH3OH . It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colorless, flammable liquid with a distinctive odor very similar to, but slightly sweeter than, ethanol...

-tainted arrack (sometimes labelled Arak) which have resulted in deaths in Indonesia.

Philippines


Lambanog is distilled in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, commonly described as coconut wine or coconut vodka. The drink is distilled from the sap of the unopened coconut flower and is particularly potent, having a typical alcohol content of 80 to 90 proof after a single distillation, but may go as high as 166 proof after the second distillation. As with coconut arrack, the process begins with the sap from the flower of the coconut palm trees. The sap is harvested into bamboo receptacles similar to rubber tree tapping
Rubber tapping
Rubber tapping is the process by which the sap is collected from a rubber tree. An incision is made in the tree's bark, which cuts through the planting cycle to optimise the latex yield....

. The collected sap is then put through a cooking or fermentation process to produce a coconut toddy
Palm wine
Palm wine also called Palm Toddy also called "Kallu" written in Malayalam and கள்ளு in Tamil or simply Toddy is an alcoholic beverage created from the sap of various species of palm tree such as the palmyra, and coconut palms...

 called "tuba" which can then be distilled to produce Lambanog. Until recent years, Lambanog was considered a local drink comparable to moonshine or other home-brewed alcoholic beverages due to its long history as a cottage industry product.

Lambanog has recently been marketed in several flavors such as mango, blueberry, bubblegum, and cinnamon among others in an effort to appeal to all age groups.

Finland


Cloetta
CloettaFazer AB
Cloetta Fazer was a Finnish-Swedish company created in 2000 after the Swedish candy company Cloetta was merged with the Finnish Fazer corporation's candy manufacturing division. Cloetta Fazer was Scandinavia's leading candy company and had production facilities in both Finland and Sweden...

 Polly 'Original' and 'Milkchoco' chocolates contain "a taste of arrack".

Sweden


A popular beverage in Sweden based on Arrack is 'Punsch
Punsch
Punsch is a traditional liqueur in Sweden and to a lesser extent some other Nordic countries produced from arrack, neutral spirits, sugar, water, and various flavorings...

' often consumed during the winter month or drizzled on top of ice cream.