2019 Jul 24
The finger-licking Durian fruit is one of the most debated food items in Sri Lanka with some of us absolutely loving the flavour and others cringing at the mere smell of the pungent fruit. It’s been made into ice cream before but the world is now talking about a Durian whiskey! Originating from Malaysia and Singapore, a new alcoholic beverage has seized the global market’s attention –Durian Whiskey. It has been patented by a Malaysian wine company named Tropical Wine Sdn Bhd and sold in Singapore. It is a derivative of a special type of durian, named the Musang King and goes for a selling price of around SG$198 (LKR 21,385) for a 750ml bottle. However, this delicacy is undergoing a large amount of turmoil due to its branding with the term “whiskey”.
The Big Debate
Whiskeys have been classified spirits that have been distilled from a grain-based feedstock, such as barley, grain or corn. In addition to this, the minimum alcohol by volume (ABV) percentage has been accepted as 40%.
This durian-based spirit is made from the flesh of Musang King durian and not from its seeds, having an ABV percentage of only 18%. Moreover, no distillation is being carried out in the manufacturing process of the so-called “Durian Whiskey”, implying that it cannot be classified as a brandy either, which involves the distillation of the flesh from grapes, apricots and peaches.
The first stage of production of this spirit involves the grinding, blending and filtering of the highest quality Musang King flesh fibres. Next, ethanol and sugar are added to the blend and mixed well. Additional pressing of the blend is then carried out for the release of more sugars. The blend is then fermented, to convert these sugars into more alcohol and carbon dioxide, similar to the production of beer and whiskey. The next step is where the confusion began to arise; whiskey is then added to the blend and left to age. This is not a new concept and is seen to have been done in the manufacture of popular liqueurs such as Baileys Irish Cream. The final step in the process is clarification, whereby any solid components in the blend are removed. The spirit is then bottled and packaged to be sent out to the market.
Looking at the manufacturing process under patented technology from Tropical Wine Sdn Bhd, ethanol and sugar are added to the blend in its early stage. Due to this, it is safe to say this Durian delicacy can be classified as a liqueur, similar to Baileys Irish Cream and Cointreau, and not a whiskey.
Just a Heads Up!
There have been cases where locals have claimed that the consumption of durian with alcohol has led to serious health issues, but these rumours have been proved to be wrong by numerous studies, paving the way for a rather intriguing new alcoholic beverage to the global market.
Image courtesy of Cheryl Tang