Most Pinoys are familiar with Lambanog, a Filipino alcoholic beverage, described as coconut arrack. It’s neither wine, nor gin, nor vodka, but is something uniquely Filipino. I have fond (and not so fond) memories involving lambanog drinking sessions in college, when this was the most cost-effective alcoholic option for students. It’s a staple inuman drink in many provinces, available even in small sari-sari stores in sleepy towns in Quezon and other parts of Southern Luzon. I’ve also shared more than a few rounds of lambanog with friends and strangers during trips around the country.
Lambanog has long been considered a drink of the masses. But Lakan Extra Premium Philippine Lambanog aims to change all that.
Lakan isn’t just any ordinary lambanog. The name comes from the title of warrior rulers who governed trade within the Archipelago of pre-colonial Philippines. It was chosen because it best describes the character and strength of the liquor. I got to sample this premium alcoholic drink at its Exclusive Grand Launch last October 8, and boy is it potent.
Brewed by Philippine Craft Distillers, Inc., a licensed world-class distiller of liquor and spirits, Lakan is made from 100% coconut nectar craft distilled by master artisans. According to the distillers, they were inspired by the centuries-old tradition of distilling coconut nectar into liquor that is practiced all throughout the islands of the Philippines. For the past 10 years, the company perfected the production of only the highest grade distilled spirits using the latest advances in technology. The distillery, which is located in Lipa City, Batangas, harvests coconut nectar for Lakan from plantations located in the provinces of Batangas, Laguna, Quezon and Marinduque.
The drink is distilled with the traditional 90 proof potency, giving it a surprisingly smooth and subtle flavor that is best served neat. It’s described as “spirity but sweet to the nose, with a jammy fruit and vanilla taste to the palate.” During the launch, guests got to sample the liquor in its pure form, which is subtle yet fiery and has a smooth and strong finish. There were also lambanog cocktail concoctions that highlighted other Filipino flavors.
Cocktails included a Debuca Mix (Lakan with Tablea with Dalandan Zest), Kali Mix (Lakan Pandan Antidote), Kampilan Mix (Lakan Lemon Grass with Ginger) and Urduja Mix (Lakan Mango Cordial). The Kampilan and Kali Mix were both straightforward with just a hint of the pandan and lemon grass flavors. The Tablea cocktail was especially good and reminded me of Bailey’s Chocolate Liqueur, an Irish whiskey and cream beverage. The sweetness of the chocolate tempered the lambanog’s strong flavor, but still had that extra punch.
The exclusive launch at Salon de Ning Bar and Lounge at Manila Peninsula Hotel was an elegant affair. The event was hosted by Joy Ortega and David Celdran and featured performances from Isabelle de Leon and The Company. A lot of the other media guests arrived late, so I felt a bit out of place next to all the industry luminaries, prime movers and high-society guests. Good thing there was lots of lambanog to go around to boost one’s confidence.
The elegant bar and lounge is reminiscent of 1930s Shanghai, designed to reflect the sophisticated world of fanciful socialite Madame Ning. The bar has four impressive themed semi-private rooms including a Boxing Room – a tribute to 1937 World Heavyweight Champion Joe Lewis, a Shoe Room boudoir which holds 101 different pairs of shoes; a silver-strewn Zeppelin Room, inspired by Madame Ning’s long friendship with the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin; and The Shanghai Room, a mysterious Oriental-inspired alcove that recreates Madame Ning’s 1930s mansion.
Lakan is positioning itself as the liquor of choice for the “discriminating global citizen,” those who are well-traveled and have experienced the best from different countries and cultures. In the same way that people associate Scotch with Scotland, Vodka with Russia, and Tequila with Mexico, Lakan Lambanog is something that is uniquely Filipino and ready for the world. The brand is something world-class that expats, businessmen, balikbayans and foreign guests can take back as a “reminder of the warmth and richness of the true Filipino spirit.”
Company Profile: Lakan Extra Premium Lambanog is a product of the Philippine Craft Distillers, Inc. (PCDI). The incorporators of PCDI are Anthony Manguiat, Jocelyn S. Lim, Jose Z. Osias, Jennifer O. Manguiat and Adolfo II Z. Reyes. The initiators of PCDI are coconut farm owners and tillers with varied backgrounds in business, public service and law. The founders of PCDI are all entrepreneurs commiteed to drive the coconut farming industry to higher levels of productivity. For more information, visit http://philippinedistillers.com/
- Lakan Extra Premium Lambanog
- Size: 750 ml
- ABV: 45%
- BPC: 6 bottles per case
- Price per bottle: Php 3,500