For the tourists at Goa the trip is never complete without enjoying the local brew Feni. Many carry back the bottles of this local brew and with it their golden memories of a wonderful Goa Holiday.
The word Feni or Fenny is derived from the word fenn meaning froth. There are only two kinds of Feni, one which is made from palm sap drawn from shoots of coconut trees and the other, which is made from the fruit of the cashew tree. The Coconut Feni is known as Toddy in Goa and is available in abundance as it is brewed round the year. Caju or cashew Feni can only be prepared around late March, during the cashew harvest season.
Traditionally Feni was brewed only from coco nut as cashew was not available in the region. Cashew seems to have been brought to Goa in the 17th century from Brazil, either directly or via Angola or Mozambique.
The traditional method of making cashew Feni was to manually crush the cashew apples and collect the juice in an earthen pot which is kept under the ground. The distilled juice is fermented and is called Feni.
The distillation process is in three stages. The liquor produced at the three stages of distillation has their own potency and purity and thus classified as Arrack, Cazulo and Feni. Fenis potency is measured during each process in Grao, a unit of measurement related to the distillation process. While Arrack is distilled at 14 to 16 Grao, Feni is at 20 to 24 Grao.
Feni is produced in mini local distilleries the number of which is estimated to be close to 4000 in the small state of Goa. More than 7000 outlets serve the liquor across the state. The numbers of the distilleries or outlets in the unorganized sector can be best left to ones imagination, given the popularity of the drink.
Feni is considered by some to have a smell, while others swear that it is an aroma. Feni is consumed neat as well as an ingredient in cocktails as it does blend with most citrus juices and soft drinks. Three common mixers are cola, tonic water and lemonade, but it can also be enjoyed on its own on the rocks, or with a slice of lime. Local indigenous Feni based cocktails are the local Goan Bar mans pride.
The liquor has become so popular that Indian Exporters are selling Feni in the global market and it can even be found in select liquor stores in London. Most international tourists prefer to carry Feni back as souvenirs of their Goa Holiday in bottles.
Goa Feni is available at different price levels. Being a common mans drink the price starts at less than a dollar to a bottle and can go up to USD 20 for a well distilled Feni.
Many distillers have started bottling Feni in attractive packaging which further enhances the souvenir value of the Feni bottle.
To enjoy Feni is sheer bliss in the serene surroundings of Goa. Irrespective of your reason to holiday and whether you are staying at a Hotel, Serviced Villa or a Serviced Apartment during your Goa vacation, Feni is definitely a must any time of the day.