White Lion VSOA Review and a Brief History of Arrack

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Marco Polo commented on the production of arrack in his 13th century travelogue II Milione. It has remained essentially unchanged all these years. He wrote:

“Nor have they any wine except such as I shall now describe. You must know that they derive it from a certain kind of tree that they have. When they want wine they cut a branch of this, and attach a great pot to the stem of the tree at the place where the branch was cut; in a day and a night they will find the pot filled. This wine is excellent drink, and is got both white and red. It is of such surpassing virtue that it cures dropsy and sick and spleen.”
The Travels of Marco Polo, 1292

This spirit is not to be confused with Arak or Batavia Arrack as they are completely different spirits. Arak is from the Middle East, distilled from fermented grapes, and flavored with aniseed. Batavia Arrack is from Indonesia and is distilled from fermented sugar cane and rice. Lastly we have Coconut Arrack which is from Sri Lanka and is distilled from the naturally fermented nectar of coconut flowers. VSOA cannot be referred to arrack in the US. This is because in the US, the alcohol laws strictly define this word and related spellings (arak, arack, araka, raki, etc) to apply only to aniseed spirits.

VSOA is distilled from naturally fermented coconut nectar before being mellowed for 2 years in barrels of Halmilla Wood.

It is a rich golden amber color. It has a very sweet aroma that is slightly nutty with hints of vanilla and tropical fruits with a slight vegetal note in the background.

On the palate it reminds be of a sweeter rum and a fruiter whiskey all rolled into one with a slight vegetal funk (in a good way). The notes of vanilla and tropical fruits are present in the taste with a nutty finish.

Overall this is an excellent and unique product. Give it a try ad it’s one not to be missed.

White Lion VSOA retails for around $26/750ml and comes in at 36.8% alcohol per volume.

VSOA Old Fashioned
2 ozs White Lion VSOA
.25 oz All spice Dram (St. Elizabeth)
1 tsp of Simple Syrup
2 dashes of Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled old fashioned glass.

Passion fruit Daiquiri

2 ozs White Lion VSOA
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Passion fruit Syrup
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass


Ceylon Swizzle
2 ozs White Lion VSOA
1 oz Ginger Liqueur (Domaine De Canton)
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Vanilla Simple Syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice filled highball glass. Garnish with orange wheel. I prefer to garnish it with a lemon. Notes: The drink has a nice honeyed tropical taste to it. It was a touch sweet for my tastes and I would cut down on the simple syrup to .75 oz. Adding a couple dashes of orange flower water adds a subtle floral touch and is a nice match for the honey like notes in the drink.


Review sample was provided by White Lion VSOA.

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