Review – Ceylon Arrack
Of all the cool job titles, Toddy Tapper has got to be up there with the best of them. This is the name given to those responsible for sourcing the liquid from which Ceylon Arrack is produced. Scaling the coconut tree, they use a fierce-looking machete to cut into the coconut flower, releasing its sap into their clay pots. Wild airborne yeast commences the fermentation almost immediately and column stills are used to produce the final distillate which is then aged in Sri Lankan Hilmalla wood barrels before bottling.
Nose: Reminiscent of Cachaca with a deep vegetal aroma of turnips and fermented strawberry. Hints of malty Genever further confound the senses whilst vanilla and raisin notes no doubt from the barrel ageing complete the complex and enjoyable aroma set.
Neat: The vegetal characteristics are again evident on the palate along with an enjoyable peppery spice that lingers throughout. Dried orange peel, dates, Brazil nuts, bannana and sweetened tamarind all make appearances at one stage or another with the result being a most enjoyable and unique flavour experience.
Mixing: Arrack is hardly the most commonly encountered spirit in cocktail lists, but with characteristics that one might encounter in a Gin/Geneva/Cachaca/Tequila hybrid, there is plenty on offer in the mixing stakes. The signature Ruby Punch (recipe below) is a real joy and makes the most of the most of the complex flavours whilst remaining highly approachable for those that might not have encountered this unusual spirit before. The earthy and vegetal notes make it an interesting substitute for Cachaca in a Caipirinha whilst the malty element with a touch of sweetness means it works a treat replacing Genever/Gin in a Martinez (although I would ease up on the vermouth. Whilst it doesn’t deal very well with liberal use of bitter ingredients, a couple of dashes of orange bitters together with a drop of Orgeat in the Old Ceylon makes for a solid twist on the Old Fashioned. further enjoyment is achieved by picking up on the citrus notes in drinks such as the Paddington and even a simple serve with Ginger Beer is very pleasing indeed.
Signature Cocktail – Ruby Punch
50ml Ceylon Arrack, 20ml Port, 75ml English Breakfast Tea, 20ml Lemon Juice, 15ml Sugar Syrup
Shake ingredients with ice and strain over ice into a highball glass.
Ceylon Arrack is a versatile and delicious product that should be explored by all with an interest in spirits. The complexity of flavours makes it an enjoyable spirit to experiment with and as long as you hold off the heavily bittered drinks, you can feel confident the results will be good.
Ceylon Arrack is available to buy from The Whisky Exchange.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.