My this trip to Goa was after six years and this time I made sure I did a proper dekkho. My exposure to Goa’s fairly limited and have realised that everyone else in my circle’s more exposed than me and an expert on all things Goan. I’ve always been drawn to the concept of Goan Feni and have always wondered why do Indians feel the need to only drink chemically-altered molasses, which we call whisky and rum.
Pumped up with chemicals. Goan Feni in this context comes across to me like a breath of fresh air. It’s probably the only country liquor which has made it to the mainstream and some bit of work has been done to make good quality Feni and there’s now some talk of giving it Heritage status.
Traditional Alcohol in India
I’ve always felt that the day we as a country discover our legacy drinks, is the day we’ll probably make it big on the world stage with our traditional drinks. The past year or so, there now seems to be a big focus on mixology and creating drinks with sophistication, rather than juggling and gimmickry. But the only thing I find missing in the drinking scene in India is traditional Indian alcohol which I feel is far tastier than what’s now known as Indian Made Foreign Liquor or IMFL. Most of which have a lot of synthetic stuff added to flavour them.
When I say traditional alcohol, I mean the homemade stuff that one gets in Central / Western India made from Mahua flower. I’d once had a triple distilled and filtered version of this, which was better than any Indian made vodka. Virar, which’s an hour away by train from Bombay, is famous for homemade alcohol made from Jamun. Really tasty stuff. And then there’s Khimard, the unofficial brew of Bandra and Vasai. Locally made alcohol, steeped with whole spices, at times for a few years. Every East Indian home has their recipe for Khimard and this’s damn tasty stuff
Barrel Aged Feni at Mapuça Cabin
The big north-south divide also divides Goa. North Goa prefers Feni made from Cashew and South Goa prefers Feni made from Coconut. Cashew Feni’s supposed to be harsher and has quite a smell. But the Barrel Aged Feni I had at Mapuça Cabin in Mapuça was a revelation
Mapuça Cabin is a small—basic-local joint that one would assume to only have the very basic stuff. It ain’t expensive, but they serve only one thing they know how to best; Feni. No food, not even snacks. Just Feni. The basic version is also very good and I thought it was much better than the branded ones I’ve had till now. Not that I’ve had a lot. But what stood out for me was the Barrel Aged Feni, which they say is aged in oak barrels for at least four years. Mapuça Cabin was started by Emidio D’Souza in the mid-sixties and has been around since then. The oak barrel was from the days when bulk scotch was imported into India in them and bottled here. Emidio managed to get three of these through a source and then started Barrel ageing Feni in this
The Barrel Aged Feni is far more sophisticated than the regular stuff. It was sippable on its own. Unlike the usual IMFL brands. Or one just adds a bit of Soda. I didn’t feel the need to add Limca to the Barrel Aged, which’s the preferred chaser for regular branded Feni. It was a class apart.
Here’s the link to Mapuça Cabin’s page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mapusacabin/
Happy hunting and Chowder-on!!