Metro Manila · 7 Philippine Specialty Wines & Spirits

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The Philippines has a lot to offer when it comes to alcoholic beverages, with nearly every region having its own type of wine or liquor. The country has been producing some local wines before the Spanish conquistadors docked on its shores. These exotic wines and liquor are often made from ingredients that are abundant in the tropical country. Here are seven specialty wines and spirits that you should definitely try.

1. Basi (Fermented Sugarcane)

The table wine of the Ilocos region, referred to as basi in Ilocano, made it in Philippine history books when northerners started a rebellion because of it. In 1807, the Ilocanos marched to the southern part of the region to demand their right to produce and sell their beloved basi again. This was decades after a Spanish law was put in place to prohibit basi production in the area.

The Basi Revolt resulted in a bloodbath that killed many Ilocanos and a number of Spanish troops. The revolt is immortalized in a few paintings now housed at the Ayala Museum in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Basi is often sold in markets in the towns of Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, and some places in La Union and Pangasinan. The original basi is made from sugarcane, wild berries, and seeds and comes with a cider-like body with a high alcoholic content.

2. Tapuey (Rice Wine)

The alcoholic rice drink tapuey is a traditional beverage of the Mountain Province. Made from glutinous and non-glutinous rice flavored with onuad roots and ginger extract, this highlander drink is clear, full bodied, and moderately sweet. Much like other wines in the northern provinces, tapuey has high alcoholic content and is described by many as a very potent drink.

During the Mountain Province’s annual Ipitik Festival, brewers from different parts of the Mountain Province gather together to show off their rice wine concoctions.
If you would like to buy this rice wine, you can find them in souvenir shops in Sagada and other parts of the Mountain Province. They are also often available in nearby areas like Cagayan Valley and Isabela. If you would like to experience Cordillera culture while drinking this rice wine, attending the Ipitik Festival is a must.

3. Bignay/Bugnay (Wild Berry Wine)

Adams, a town high up in the mountains of Ilocos Norte near the province’s famous white beaches of Pagudpud, produces a wine made out of wild berries.
Referred to as bugnay (Antidesma bunius) in the vernacular, this wine is in demand because of the berries’ phytochemical properties. This sweet and tarty alcoholic drink is produced by the Adams Wine Makers Association and is available in souvenir shops and some groceries around Ilocos Norte.

4. Lambanog (Coconut Arrack)

Lambanog or coconut arrack is a potent drink produced in Quezon Province and other areas of the Tagalog region. Because of its high alcoholic content and its clarity, this drink is referred to as the vodka of the East. The traditional alcoholic beverage is made from distilled coconut flower sap.
The first lambanog is said to have been produced in Quezon Province’s town of Tayabas and because businesses producing it belong to the cottage industry sector, this Tagalog alcoholic beverage is often considered as moonshine. There are three major distilleries in Tayabas, Quezon that make this type of liquor though. This includes Buncayo Distillery, Mallari Distillery, and Capistrano Distillery. One of the most notable brands available not only in Quezon but in major groceries in Metro Manila is Vino de Coco.

5. Mead

While mead is not really produced in a particular region in the Philippines, one notable brand of honey wine mixed with fruit has made it to the local market. Dielle, a Philippine-based honey wine producer, makes a number of sweet concoctions ranging from traditional mead to those mixed with fruits.

6. Laksoy (Palm Liquor)

Laksoy is the signature liquor of the Butuanons. It is also popular in other parts of the Caraga region in Mindanao. This palm liquor is made from distilled nipa palm sap and is said to be one of the most tedious Philippine wines to make. If you visit this part of the country, you can find laksoy in souvenir shops. Laksoy with different flavors are also available.

7. Tuba (Coconut Toddy)

Tuba known for its stinging bittersweet taste, is an alcoholic drink produced in places like Malolos, Bulacan and as far south as Cebu. The mildly fermented liquor comes from coconut buds. While tuba is usually not available in souvenir shops, you can get a taste of it in communities near coconut farms.