Light reading on Ar(r)ack anyone?

Science Education Series
No. 16
Industries based on alcoholic fermentation in Sri Lanka
by Upali Samarajeewa
1986

I cannot say enough good things about this text (linked above) and it fills in a big chunk of spirits knowledge which is palm sap derived spirits like Arrack. Keep in mind that this is Sri Lanka, the large island off the southern tip of India and not Batavia or Java which come from quite a ways east.

Casual readers will enjoy the mention of products on the market in 1986 and salivate at the prospect of drinking a VSOA (very special old arrack). We learn that one of the reasons the spirits were not exported is that they weren’t even able to produce enough for local markets and that is why some of their araks had to be blended with molasses based rums. Gilbey’s made something called “Captain Cheers”?

Owners of coconut palms in other countries like Jamaica with former very small traditions of making palm sap derived spirits will enjoy the details on cultivation and fermentation. How soon until we see products hit the market from less famous regions? This document will speed that up! I’m available to consult!

Beverage technologists will admire the bibliography and rare bits of information. Educators will admire the organizational skill of the author. The bulletin is designed to be an applied look at science directed at local interests. Lucky for us, the locals are interested in alcoholic spirits!

The PDF is missing at least one page and sadly the bibliography is not intact, but I was able to track down one of the more important papers referenced: Distillation, Maturation and Blending of Arrack by T.D. Ekmon of the State Distilleries Corporation, Seeduwa (1983). It isn’t exactly monumental and the best parts made Samarajeewa’s larger document.

(If the link breaks, I can send the documents to whoever needs it.)

1 thought on “Light reading on Ar(r)ack anyone?

  1. There is a pretty delicious Sri Lankan VSOA available in the US, White Lion VSOA ($30). It makes for a nice little sipper and is wonderful in an Old Fashioned riff.

    Thanks for these links! I’m finding the 1986 article fascinating.

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