There is a saying in Lebanon – the better the wine, the better the arak. That’s why we take special care to select the finest plump Obeidi grapes that are grown extensively in the Beqaa. The grapes are harvested by hand in September, then mechanically destemmed and gently crushed in a press to obtain the best Obeidi juice.
Then comes the triple distillation process that will transform the wine into El Massaya arak. First, the wine is poured into traditional Moorish lid copper stills where it is heated by gentle fires of vine wood. As the vapours rise they are carried through copper pipes into the cooling device where the alcohol condenses. After eight hours the process is repeated to remove impurities and leave the heart of the alcohol, the ‘coeur de chauffe’. This is followed by a third distillation of 24 hours that gives the arak its purity and distinction. We combine the third distillation with the maceration of the best green organic aniseed from the village of Hineh on the Syrian slopes of Mount Hermon.
We then collect the non-aged arak in traditional clay amphorae made by the potters in the Mount Lebanon village of Beit Chebab. These are just porous enough to absorb some of the liquid and allow it to breathe. During this crucial resting period lasting many months, the clay lends a faint golden clarity to the matured spirit that will bear the name El Massaya Arak.