Arra is an alcoholic beverage, distilled from wheat, unofficially, the national beverage of Bhutan.

In Bhutan, all arra is home-brewed - it is not sold in stores, and is illegal to sell, due to laws regulating the sale of liquor. Because of this, the flavor and strength of the beverage is extremely variable.

Arra has a smoky flavor, a little like whiskey, because it is virtually always distilled over a wood fire. They type of wood used has considerable effect on the flavor - some arra tastes very smoky, almost like tar, other arra has almost no taste. The alcohol content is about that of wine, but again, this is variable. The flavor is not as strong as some distilled beverages, but is still interesting - it is simple, but good, and tastes decent in combination with black tea or green tea.

To make arra, cook wheat, then drain, and allow to ferment in a cool place for about 3 months. Combine one part wheat to one part water, in a pot that will be the still. A smaller pot is placed inside this, raised above the bottom of the first pot. A concave lid or pot is placed on top, filled with cold water, so that the alcohol condenses and falls into the smaller pot. Change the cold water every 15 minutes. On a decent fire, a quart of arra should be ready in about 45 minutes. Fresh arra is nice warm, but be careful!

Arra is often transported in thick bamboo tubes with shoulder straps and a small spout on one end. It is traditionally consumed from small (about 4 ounce) cups, turned from magnolia wood.

Arra is sometimes stored in non-traditional containers - keep this in mind if you are ever offered any. After accepting an offer of arra, once, I saw that it was poured from a container formerly used for antifreeze. Ick. But it still tasted good. Yes, that was pretty stupid. I know. But I am still alive.

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