365 Drinks: #203 Penang Tuak (Malaysia)

Penang Tuak
Penang Tuak

Never would have guessed this place sells booze

It was refreshing to cross another land border after all that time in Thailand. The whole family made it in one piece, they didn’t even opened Jésus’ (our cactus) bag. Our stop for the next couple of days would be Penang, an island just off the coast of Malaysia and near the Thai border. We arrived in the afternoon and were just too tired to do much at the beginning, the heat didn’t help to get us motivated either. So we did some research about drinking in Malaysia, a Muslim country afterall. It didn’t take me long to find something interesting though.

Just down the road from our hostel was a shack that produces tuak, a mildly alcoholic coconut palm wine. Of course I went down there to get me a bottle. Just before I entered the shop I was greeted by a couple of older Malaysian men that probably never saw any whitey come into their little run down-looking shop with clear intentions. “Is this where I can get some tuak? I heard you guys have tuak!”. They looked at me, smiled and told me to go to the counter and, “Yeah of course, this stuff is great!” A good start.

The guy behind the “bar” asked me if I wanted a big or a small bottle. I guess I start with a small one. So he took out an old 500ml plastic water bottle, a funnel and big plastic cup, then he used the plastic cup to scoop some tuak out of a big open barrel to be put in the funnel that fills up my good ole plastic bottle. The stuff was milky white and, according to the guy behind the counter, a wine made out of palm with around 5 percent. I said thanks and headed back to the hostel. I needed to try it right away, I was just too intrigued. I opened the bottle and I could smell the sour vinegary aroma right away. The taste was kind of sweet but very sour at the same time. It also had a slightly bitter coconutty aftertaste which was a bit weird. It wasn’t good but I didn’t really expect it to be great.

3.3

The Breakdown


Aroma
2
Taste
4
Drinkability
4
Alcoholic Punch
3



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