Yen Vien Village preserves traditional spirit making methods
  • | tienphong, | March 12, 2017 01:39 PM
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Yen Vien Village in Van Ha Commune, Bac Giang Province still has about 300 households making spirits producing some four million litres a year.

Nguyen Duc Hanh, a villager, said he learnt how to make rice liquor when he was 12 and officially took over the households business at 20. He learnt how to feel the weather and choose the best sticky rice to make the rice liquor. They have to constantly check the state of the rice and change the brewing time based on the weather.


Making spirits at Yen Vien Village

"It's not easy to make spirits that meet the right quality. I have to ensure my family pay attention in order to preserve this traditional craft. My youngest son is also learning how to make rice liquor," Hanh said.

Choosing the most suitable yeast is also a family secret. There are many yeast to make spirits, but in order to make the distinctive flavour, the family use 36 herbal medicines to make the yeast. After that, the liquid is put into earthen jars in the basement for 15 days, at the temperatures of 28-30 degrees.

"Spirit making families like us don't even sell spirits to strangers to protect our reputation. We don't need advertising, our spirits are all sold to regular customers," he said.

Making spirits from rice and cassava has been a traditional craft for Yen Vien Village for 100 years.

Concerns over methanol poisoning

Truong Duc Nhan, former head of the Department for Standards, Metrology and Quality of Bac Giang Province, said, "Methanol is usually extracted from wooden materials while the ethanol spirits are usually made from starch materials. When combined, they will become solid. When making spirits, at a suitable temperature, they will be released as liquid."

Nhan suspected that spirit makers might have used solid alcohol to produce more spirit but aren’t aware that there was methanol inside, leading to many poisoning cases.

He went on to say that traditional spirit making like in Yen Vien Village usually has low methanol level as the people use starch materials. However, the management of traditional spirits is lax and faces many challenges.

He advised consumers to refrain from drinking too much or at least use spirits of clear origin.

Dr Nguyen Duy Thinh from School of Biotechnology and Food Technology said consumers usually thought that drinking traditional spirits was safer, however, even traditional spirits still contain toxic substances.

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