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Goa`s Urrack season sets the tipsy tone

Michael Arauzo is a busy man in the month of March every year. His dingy bar and restaurant along the National highway in Siridao village near here is a must visit for guzzlers.



Panaji: Michael Arauzo is a busy man in the
month of March every year. His dingy bar and restaurant along
the National highway in Siridao village near here is a must
visit for guzzlers.

"This is a time for Urrack (first distillate of Cashew
fermentation). I get pure Urrack from Canacona. I don`t
believe in sourcing it from vendors. I collect it directly
from the cashew plantations," Arauzo explains as he continues
to entertain customers and cleaning tables at the bar.

Its a Sunday afternoon and the place with hardly five
tables is jam packed mostly with locals. Costing Rs 35 per
quarter, the much-in-demand-drink, has people even standing
outside the bar area in a tree shade waiting for their turn.

On all tables, Urrack is ordered. Beverages like beer and
whisky take a backseat during this time of the year.

"Fish and Urrack is my speciality," says the 56-year-old
Arauzo, formerly working with the Merchant Navy as a cook.

"This was a small hut earlier, which was owned by us in
our barren paddy field along the highway. I got an excise
license with the help of a local MLA and started my own
business," he explains.

Arauzo`s wife, Christina, helps him in the kitchen.
Urrack is the first distillate of Cashew fermentation.

The brew contains 12-14 per cent alcohol content.

"Two parts of Urrack and one of fermented cashew juice
distilled again makes Feni," says Minguel Braganza,
Secretary, Botanical Society of Goa (BSG).

BSG has been promoting Urrack amongst tourists and also
encouraging locals, who have been into this trade for
generations.

The hilly areas of Sattari, Bicholim, Canacona, Quepem,
Tiswadi and Sanguem are places where Urrack is distilled. The
juice extracted from cashew apple is brewed into Urrack.

"We are promoting Urrack amongst tourists in a big way.
The recently held Konkan Fruit Festival had a special section
for Urrack," Braganza said, adding that attempts are on to get
GI (Geographical Indication) for this drink, which is mixed
with lime juice or orange drink to accentuate its flavour.

The brew is available only during limited period of the
year, especially in the first week of March.

"It is available during limited time, for first ten days
of cashew season," said Gurudatt Bhakta, Secretary, Goa
Cashew Distilleries and Bottlers Association.

The brew, he said, is usually sold in bulk without being
bottled.

"There is only one brand which bottles Urrack," he said.

Urrack usually gets sour if not consumed after some time.
Bhakta also explained that it cannot be marketed much
among tourists as many don`t know how to consume it properly.

"There are certain intricacies that one has to understand
while preparing a glass of Urrack by mixing it with lime or
orange drink," he added.

The State Excise department has not been taxing this brew
as a matter of policy.

Excise Commissioner P S Reddy said that except for 20
paise per bottle, there is no taxation on this liquor.

"Urrack manufacturing is unique to Goa and hence it is
being encouraged by the state government," he said.

PTI

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