Golden Arak, Ramallah Distilleries
Arak has ancient origins, and stands among the earliest distillates in human history. The term Arak (or in some cases Arrack) can refer to either cane distillates (as in Indonesia) or anise-flavored spirits. Anise-flavored Arak is the traditional spirit of the Levant region and the Middle East, and the higher-proof regional cousin to European favorites like sambuca, ouzo, and pastis. It is nicknamed the “Milk of Lions” for the way it turns a cloudy white when the anise oils meet water in the drinker’s glass.
Arak Ramallah was established in Lebanon, in 1919, and was the first Arak to be exported to the USA. The Jubran family acquired the distillery in 1945, and today it is remains solely owned by brothers Nakhleh and Bishara Jubran, the third generation to produce Arak Ramallah.
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The grapes used to make Arak Ramallah’s brandy base are grown using low irrigation to enhance the concentration of flavor and harvested in September and October. Once the grapes are crushed, the juice is placed in barrels with anise and the mixture is allowed to ferment for several weeks. The resulting wine is distilled using a copper alembic, a still type which, along with Arak itself, originated in the area at the dawn of distillation. Finally, the spirit is proofed to 50% ABV.
Arak Ramallah is one of the most historic and full-flavored examples of this traditional category today; tastes like history! Arak is best served ice cold: 2 parts water to 1 park Arak. This blend is typically prepared by pouring first the Arak, then the water, followed by the ice, in a fresh glass.