Sneak peak into the world’s first feni cellar, set to open in Goa this monthhttps://indianexpress.com/photos/india-news/goa-feni-cellar-5525390/

Sneak peak into the world’s first feni cellar, set to open in Goa this month

The world’s lone feni cellar will officially open to public this month in Goa.

Sneak peak into the world’s first feni cellar, set to open in Goa this month

The world’s first Feni cellar officially opens this January. A brain child of Hansel Vaz, a Feni distiller himself, it aims to educate the nuances of the indigenous drink to Goans and tourists alike. The cellar is at the foothills of Cuelim Monte, near the Three Kings Chapel in south Goa. Vaz hopes this new initiative will help to “contemporise” an artisan practice and will be a new tourist bookmark in beach capital Goa. The feni is expected to be filled after the first harvest this season – February to May) (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)

Sneak peak into the world’s first feni cellar, set to open in Goa this month

The cellar houses over 1200 garrafões, Portugese for large bellied bottles, as it intends to stock Feni in the traditional method, with bottles used to rest the drink for years. A good Feni can be corked shut for over 30 years. Goa is full of stories of ways to drink Feni. In the olden days, homes even had a peg glass, a tiny glass to measure the drink. Elders used to sometimes test the alcohol content just by throwing a match stick into a glass, among the many local lore. (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)

Sneak peak into the world’s first feni cellar, set to open in Goa this month

Part of the visit to the cellar is also the experience it brings along – of seeing the traditional pots, some over 100 years old used to ferment the cashew drink, dug into earth. The whole experience includes picking cashews from the orchard, stomping, fermenting and even learning how A study explains first distillation gives Urrack , to be consumed at the earliest. Urrack mixed with the fermented juice and distilled second time gives Cazulo, with the third distillation in the same manner giving Feni. (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)

Sneak peak into the world’s first feni cellar, set to open in Goa this month

The idea of the cellar came to Vaz, two years ago when he suffered a heart attack and was resting at home. “I thought of my childhood, our rich culture and told myself that I had to now thank my new life and build a memory to our Goan traditions, our way of living. My grandfather, like most Goans would have a peg in the evening, while the entire family would assemble in the courtyard, singing songs of our forefathers. Our Goan balcaos (balconies) are family time where Feni has played an important role in most homes,” he adds. In Goa Feni made pure is had to cure most ailments from common cold, to headache to body ache after a day at the fields. (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)

Sneak peak into the world’s first feni cellar, set to open in Goa this month

The bottles come in various hues of blue, green and brown and are known to be made manually – with the potter blowing one straight lung of air while making it. In Goan homes, one can still find these garrafões resting Feni, though these bottles are now picked mostly as decorative pieces as homes outside and abroad. (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)

Vaz says he had to spend all his profits on these bottles and has been collecting them for two years. Some are sourced from antique shops while others from Goan homes. A family in north Goa even interviewed him before they parted with their heirloom for the cellar, in what they saw was a good cause. (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)

Most are arranged according to their makes, their period and also their colour hues. Visitors will be shown the different periods they belong – as over the years, there were bottles which also were designed and crafted in different molds. (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)

Then there are those which are 200 years old, where one can see the sculptor has just chipped off the mouth. This piece took a lot of effort, one with Vaz calls a “treasure” in itself. Imagine the journey it must have made, from several homes, to finally rest in a cellar, for the purpose it was designed, stock Feni. (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)

The highlight of the entire visit – every Friday, will see Vaz and his team breaking down the drink, in their tasting room, a long dining table in the centre of the cellar. Guests will be introduced to the “fruitiness”, the flavours of the drink, and a way to train to appreciate the aroma. “Look at it this way. If the Goans thought the drink was funny or smelt wrong, we could have eliminated it 250 years ago. Someone would have thought about t, right? It’s our indigenous drink, its endearing to us. Throw your popular imagination of the drink and allow us to pass our heritage to you. Learn to accept,” says Vaz. (Photo: Sanjeet Wahi)