Introduction: How to Make Arak
Arak is the oldest distilled spirit in the world. It originates from the Levant (i.e. Palestine, Jordan, Syria & Lebanon) and Iraq, where it is still produced and widely enjoyed to this day. The Arabs of this region created the Alembic Pot Still, teachings on distillation and even coined the word "Alcohol". So we can thank these people, and Arak for all the spirits we've come to know today.
Checkout this page for more on the unique history of Arak:
Checkout this video to see how it is done:
NOTE:This tutorial will give you a rough idea about how you could theoretically make Arak in your home. Keep in mind, this tutorial is over-simplified and uses generic, non-distilling terminology, so that it is more approachable for novices. Distilling is not something you can learn in an instructable and do right away, unless you're a seasoned distiller. It's far from baking brownies, and there are serious safety and legal (depending on where you live) concerns. Please do a wealth of research before taking-up the craft of distillation. Again, this tutorial aims just to give you a rough, theoretical idea as to how it could be done on a hobby level.
To Make Arak You'll Need:
- Winemaking Equipment
- Distillation Equipment
Step 1: The Crush
The first step in making Arak is sorting and crushing the grapes. Harvest the finest clusters, some unwelcome ones can slip through. So, handle each one individually and remove any clusters that may have any unwanted characteristics. After sorting, the clusters it's time to crush them. Throw them in a tub or baby pool, wash your feet and get crushing.
Step 2: Primary Fermentation
Throw the crushed grapes and their juice into a bucket, barrel or whatever you got laying around. Make sure it's cleaned and sanitized first. Now you just let it be. The yeast on the skins will consume the sugar in the grapes and turn it into alcohol. It'll get frothy to let you know it's working.
Step 3: The Press
After a week when things die down and the fermentation is less active, you need to separate the juice from the skins / seeds. You can make a homemade grape press by getting two identical buckets, and drilling a crazy amount of holes into one of them. Pour the grapes into the bucket full of holes, and then put the other bucket on top of the grapes and start jumping up and down inside of it. If you don't get me, just google DIY Grape Press.
Step 4: Secondary Fermentation
Pour the juice back into a sealed, clean and sanitized container with an airlock for 2-3 more weeks. If you don't have an airlock, Google DIY Airlock - they're easy to make. When you're airlock stops bubbling, it's a good indicator that your fermentation is over and you're ready to distill.
Step 5: First Distillation
Dump your wine into a pot still. If you don't have one, you can either buy a hobby still. Read up on safety precautions before distilling. If you don't know what you're doing, you can easily cause a fire or explosion. Please be careful. The purpose of this distillation is to convert the wine into a crude spirit, that is not safe to drink with a higher alcohol concentration.
Step 6: Second Distillation
Load your crude spirit back into the still. It should not be more than 30% ABV. This is where you refine your spirit into something that's safe and enjoyable to consume, while further increasing the ABV.
You need to learn to divide the spirit into fore-shots, heads, hearts and tails.
This is much easier said than done. You have to rely on your senses (i.e. smell, taste and touch) and this can only come with experience. The most important thing is to disregard the foreshots so nobody gets methanol poisoning from your spirit. The remaining cuts won't be poisonous, but how good you make your cuts, has a direct impact on how good your spirit smells / tastes.
Step 7: Third Distillation
Load your refined spirit back into the still. Dilute to 30% ABV (this is essential), add aniseed and distill once more.
Step 8: Maturation
Age the spirit in a slightly porous vessel so that the higher alcohols can evaporate. You'll have to periodically use sensory analysis to determine when it is ready. How long it ages, depends on your climate. Aging is shorter in hotter climates, and longer in colder climates. Only smelling and tasting can let you know when it is ready.
Step 9: Proofing
Dilute to 53% alcohol.
Step 10: Bottling
Bottle, Cork & Label it, and you're done.
Again, this is much easier said than done.
This process takes me at least 1-year to complete, but at least it gives you some insight to how it's done.
NOTE: This tutorial will give you a rough idea about how you could theoretically make Arak. Keep in mind, this tutorial is over-simplified and uses generic, non-distilling terminology, so that it is more approachable for novices. Distilling is not something you can learn in an instructable and do right away, unless you're a seasoned distiller. It's far from baking brownies, and there are serious safety and legal (depending on where you live) concerns. Please do a wealth of research before attempting to distill anything. Again, this tutorial aims just to give you a rough, theoretical idea as to how it could be done on a hobby level.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.