Raksi (Devanagari:रक्सी) or Rakshi Bantawa: Hengmawa/Hengma, (Limbu: Sijongwaa aara, Nepal Bhasa: aila) is the Nepali term for a traditional distilled alcoholic beverage in Nepal, India (Darjeeling, Sikkim) and Tibet. It is often made at home.
Raksi is a strong drink, clear like vodka or gin, tasting somewhat like Japanese sake. It is usually made from kodo millet (kodo) or rice; different grains produce different flavors. The Limbus, for whom it is a traditional beverage, drink tongba and raksi served with pieces of pork, water buffalo or goat meat sekuwa. For the Newars, aila is indispensable during festivals and various religious rituals as libation, prasad or sagan.
In the CNN's list of World's 50 most delicious drinks, it was ranked 41st and was described as, "Made from millet or rice, raksi is strong on the nose and sends a burning sensation straight down your throat that resolves itself into a surprisingly smooth, velvety sensation. Nepalese drink this home brew to celebrate festivals, though some think that the prized drink itself is the reason to celebrate."
Scotch whisky, Scotland ranks at 39 in the CNN list.
Because of its popularity, various temperance movements exist in Nepal, including various women's groups. Raksi, however, remains an important requirement of various religious rituals and social events, due in part perhaps to its antiseptic properties.
Raksi is often served in a bhatti glass and during special occasions, the drink is poured from a great height via a pitcher with a small spout, making an entertaining spectacle.
Raksi is produced, sold and mostly consumed at rustic distilleries scattered around the countryside. Usually it is not aged before consumption. A large amount of wood is used in the distillation process.
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