Two thousand years ago, the people living in the present day borders of Lebanon distilled wine to make arak, Lebanon’s national drink. Arak is an aniseed-based Eau De Vie which when mixed with water turns snow white. Indeed, it is often referred to as the Lion’s milk.
The Karam Winery continues this millennia-old tradition of arak making, using ancestral skills with the latest distilling methods. We believe good arak should come from white grapes and should be characterized by purity, color, taste and smoothness.
Purity comes from the art of distilling and the type of still used. The Karam Winery uses a handmade copper alembic in which we triple distill our arak to make sure that the impurities, especially the methanol is eliminated. A lot of eau de vie is wasted in achieving this.
Color is a function of the quality and quantity of aniseed used. The Karam Winery uses aniseed from the Syrian village of Heeneh, famed for growing what is arguably the finest aniseed in the world.
Taste is determined by the type of grapes used as well as the quality of the aniseed. The Karam Winery uses indigenous white grapes namely, Merwahi, Hifawi, and Miksasi. They give a luscious, fruity taste, which, when coupled with aniseed, gives a sweet note to the arak.
Smoothness is determined by the maturity of the grapes at harvest and the ageing process. The more mature the grapes, the higher the quantity of alcohol content of eau de vie. The Karam Winery harvests grapes at half maturity, ensuring a lower yield of eau de vie with less alcohol. To ensure optimum roundness, after the third distillation, the arak is rested in traditional clay jars for five years before release.
Arak is enjoyed as an aperitif or as an accompaniment to mezze and other foods.