A clear light white drink; harvested early morning by slashing the bark of palm trees and collecting the sap overnight. The aromas are intriguing yet inviting. Soft and a bit reminiscent of fermenting coconut water (maybe because it isn’t too far from it). A little meaty too with lots of green bark character.
The taste is distinct and perhaps not the most given although it does grow on you and a couple of glasses later, you would be forgiven for thinking of it as weird cider. It is mostly semi-sweet at this point, with a hint of prickle on the tongue, somewhat nutty (although i don’t know if Date Palm Toddy would too exhibit this note; what i am trying is Coconut Palm Toddy.) and shows some nice lactic creaminess. The finish is definitely cider-like but minus all or any finesse whatsoever.
The colour in the glass seems a lot whiter than in the bottle. Apart from that, the other facts to share would be that first timers or the unfrequent imbibers can end up with an upset stomache and the extremely frequent tipplers will acquire a reminiscent scent in their sweat. Besides that, the food that accompanies is burn-a-hole-in-your-stomache spicy so it makes you drink faster.
I leave the table, half happy on this half-fermented brew of joy. Next tasting, in the evening, full-ferment, full steam, full on.
Meanwhile, I gather that not all palms can yield this juice. The tree has to be a certain type. Then, it has to be trained to be a toddy tree as opposed to a fruit bearing tree. Makes sense, if you are going to gash a tree and drain it of its sap, you are basically depriving the fruit of its nourishment.
Besides this, only a special professional group may carry out this activity. It runs in families and they pass it on. Just because you own a few trees doesn’t mean you can suck the sap. Special people will come by and do it for you. Control is restrictive and regimented.
…a few hours pass. They don’t seem as bad because their passage is punctuated by many Pina Coladas. But, not to be distracted, the Toddy is tasted again, now a brandishing youth, in full vigour and vitality. It has come into its own. While the strength has definitely galloped along, the aromas have become a lot more subdued, and i daresay, somewhat elegant. the force may seem lesser but the persistance and intensity are surely there. The alcohol has come a good couple of notches, enough to give you a mild spin even in small doses but the taste is a lot more complete and rounded. For most people, this would be a good point of taste. Sadly though, the locals may not exactly concur and prefer to hawk the earlier lighter stages. Given the violence and other stories associated with alcohol in general, no wonder that Toddy is best with the wrath turned off.
Next visit to God’s own country i encourage you to give it a shot. It may not be as easy; hotels look down on it and hush it up, local even liquor shops don’t stock it. You will have to go to a highly government controlled Toddy shop to get your supply, perhaps by boat. It is worth the journey. The ride back will the breeziest thing you have ever felt.
Chak dey Phattey!