Currency and Delivery Country

We're just loading our login box for you, hang on!


Arrack, an often-misunderstood spirit with a complex flavour profile and a rich history, has woven its narrative through centuries and across continents. This spirit, distilled predominantly in South and Southeast Asia, is unique to its locality and varies greatly depending on its country of origin, the ingredients used, and the methods of production. With its name believed to be derived from the Arabic word "araq," meaning juice, arrack encapsulates the essence of the ingredients from which it is made, whether it be coconut flowers, sugarcane, grain, or fruit.

Origins and History

Tracing its origins back several centuries, arrack's history is as potent as its flavour. It is considered one of the oldest distilled spirits in the world, with evidence suggesting that it was being produced as far back as the 8th century in the East Indies. The distillation techniques possibly spread from the Middle East, where the art of distillation was relatively advanced, through trade routes into Asia.

Regional Varieties

Arrack should not be confused with "arak" from the Middle East, which is an anise-flavoured spirit. The two are entirely different, both in taste and production. Asian arrack, meanwhile, is incredibly diverse. In countries like Sri Lanka, it is traditionally made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers. Indonesian and Filipino varieties may be made from sugarcane or red rice. This diversity means that the flavour of arrack can range from a mild, almost rum-like sweetness to a powerful and pungent taste with a strong aromatic punch.

Production Methods

The process of making arrack is labour-intensive and varies widely. In Sri Lanka, for example, "toddy tappers" scale coconut trees to collect the sap of the coconut flowers, which is then fermented and distilled. The distillation process also varies, with some distillers using continuous stills while others prefer the traditional pot still, which is believed to preserve the spirit's character better.

Flavour Profile

The flavour profile of arrack is as diverse as its methods of production. It can have a slightly sweet undertone, akin to a soft rum, with a smooth and sometimes fruity finish. Other types can be more potent, with a sharp, almost astringent taste that can surprise those unfamiliar with the spirit. The complexity of arrack's flavour has made it a cherished base in traditional cocktails and punches, particularly in countries where it is produced.

Cultural Significance

Arrack holds a significant cultural place in many Asian countries. In Sri Lanka, it is a traditional accompaniment to local celebrations and social gatherings. In Indonesia, it has been a traditional spirit for centuries, though its consumption and production have been subject to religious and regulatory pressures. Each region's arrack is a reflection of its people, history, and natural environment.

Regulatory Challenges and Variations

The production and sale of arrack are often subject to local regulations, which can be strict, particularly in predominantly Muslim countries where alcohol consumption is frowned upon or outlawed. These restrictions have sometimes led to the production of illicit arrack, which, without proper quality control, can be dangerous and has led to tragedies.

Modern Arrack and Craft Distillation

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in traditional spirits, and arrack is no exception. Craft distillers are exploring the possibilities of this traditional spirit, producing high-quality arrack that respects traditional methods while also appealing to contemporary palates. This modern take on arrack is slowly introducing the spirit to a broader audience and elevating its status in the international spirits community.

Cocktails and Gastronomy

Arrack's versatility makes it an intriguing ingredient for mixologists and chefs alike. Its distinct flavour can add depth and complexity to cocktails, and it pairs well with a variety of flavours, from sweet to savoury. In Sri Lanka, arrack is traditionally consumed straight, on the rocks, or with a splash of water or ginger beer. It also plays a central role in the classic punch recipes passed down through generations.

Sustainability and Ethical Production

As with many traditional spirits, there is an increasing focus on sustainable and ethical production practices in the arrack industry. Sustainable farming of coconut and sugarcane, fair wages for toddy tappers, and environmentally friendly distillation practices are becoming more important to producers and consumers alike.

Arrack's journey from an ancient traditional spirit to a modern-day artisanal beverage is a testament to its enduring appeal. With its complex flavour profile and deep-rooted cultural significance, arrack is not merely a spirit but a storied beverage that captures the essence of the regions from which it hails. As it gains popularity in the craft spirits movement, arrack stands poised to secure a place in the global spirits market, offering a taste of Asia's rich cultural heritage to enthusiasts around the world. Whether savoured in its traditional form or mixed into an inventive cocktail, arrack invites a deeper appreciation.

Read more
Shop Other Styles
See More
Sort by
Advanced search
Age in years
Bottling year
Alcohol by volume
Distilleries & brands
User rating
Bottle size
Showing 1 - 3 out of 3
Sort by