Philippine Alcoholic Beverages

December 20, 2008


A. Etymology

According to Wikipedia, there is a popular theory found in many dictionaries about where does the word alcohol originated. It is said that the word alcohol was derived from the Arabic word لكحل = ALKHL = al-kuhul. Alkuhul is the original name of a very finely powdered antimony sulfide that was used as an antiseptic and eyeliner during the older times. This powder is prepared through the sublimation of natural mineral stibnite in a closed vessel. According to this theory, the meaning of alkuhul would have been first extended to distilled substances in general, and then narrowed to ethanol.

However, the derivation is suspicious since the current Arabic word لكحل = ALKHL does not derive from alkuhul. The Qu`ran verse 37:47 uses the word الغول = ALGhWL = al-ghawl which properly means, “spirit or demon”. This derivation would, of course, be consistent with the use of “spirit” or “spirit of wine” as synonymous of “alcohol” in most Western languages.

B. History

A colorless liquid nutrient that is usually prepared through the fermentation of different fruits, sugar or different cereals like grains and rice in the help of yeast is called alcohol.

Drinking alcoholic beverages is said to be the one of the oldest traditions around the world. Based on history, alcohol is the first chemical invented by man that make differences to the conditions of our body and mind.

Based on Old Testament, alcoholic beverages originated thtough fermentation of different saps. It gives pleasant taste and may also make a person to be sleepy whenever a person drink.

Also, according to the historical records, drinking alcoholic beverages in Europe became widespread because of the Roman and Greeks conquerors that are well-known grape planters and drinkers. The Romans and Greeks carried the custom of planting grapes and drinking alcoholic beverages and spread it to their different territories. Aside from grapes, there are also different sources of alcohols in the early times. Some of them are meads coming from honeys in the beehive, palmera sap, fruits, grains and milk coming from a female horse or mare.

As time goes by, fermentation of different fruit saps and meads became well known to the countries in the east like, China and Japan. However, whisky or sometimes called “water of life” became popular to the different countries in Europe during the Middle Ages.

The making of alcoholic beverages continues to spread to the different parts of the world (see Table 1.1 Appendix). It also reached the Philippines. Alcoholic beverages were also made to the different parts of the archipelago and were given different name according to the region or provinces it was made.


According to Wikipedia, in chemistry, alcohol is any organic compound in which a hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom, which in turn is bound to other hydrogen and/or carbon atoms. The general formula for a simple acyclic alcohol is CnH2n+1OH. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/alcohol.htm)

In general usage, alcohol refers almost always to ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, and often to any beverage that contains ethanol. This sense underlies the term alcoholism. As a drug, ethanol is known to have a depressing effect that decreases the responses of the central nervous system. Other forms of alcohol are usually described with a clarifying adjective, as in isopropyl alcohol or by the suffix -ol, as in isopropanol.

A. Methyl Alcohol

Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, is a chemical compound with chemical formula CH3OH. It is the simplest alcohol, and is a light, volatile, colourless, flammable, poisonous liquid with a very faint odor. It is used as an antifreeze, solvent, fuel, and as a denaturant for ethyl alcohol. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/methanol.htm)

Methyl alcohol is a poisonous substance that is why it is not applicable in making alcoholic beverage. It is usually used in different industries as denetured and in medicinal purpose as disinfectant.

B. Ethyl Alcohol

Ethyl Alcohol is the alcohol that is usually found in different alcoholic beverages. Ethyl Alcohol is sometimes called ethanol. Its molecular formula looks like this.

H3 C – C – O – H

In this structure, C is carbon, H is hydrogen, O is oxygen and the hyphens are the chemical bonds between the atoms. The OH (O-H) group on the molecule is what gives it the specific chemical properties of an alcohol.

You will not find pure alcohol in most drinks; drinking pure alcohol can be deadly because it only takes a few ounces of pure alcohol to quickly raise the blood alcohol level into the danger zone. For various types of beverages, the ethanol concentration (by volume) is as follows:

· Beer = 4 to 6 percent (average of about 4.5 percent)

· Wine = 7 to 15 percent (average of about 11 percent)

· Champagne = 8 to 14 percent (average of about 12 percent)

· Distilled spirits (e.g. rum, gin, vodka, whiskey) = 40 to 95 percent

(http://howstuffworks.com/ethylalcohol.htm) (see appendix table 2.1)

Most of the typical spirits purchased in liquor stores are 40 percent alcohol. Some highly concentrated forms of rum and whisky (75 to 90 percent) can be purchased in liquor stores. Some highly concentrated forms of whiskey (i.e. moonshine) can be made and/or purchased illegally.


A. Filipino Customs In Relation To Alcohol

The use of alcohol in the early times is the same as today regardless of the problems of drinking too much alcohol. Drinking alcoholic beverages became the center of every community’s works. It is used as a part of a ceremony, a custom or a part of a ritual for example, the mass of the Catholics, services of the Protestant and different religious activities such as the religious ceremonies of Aetas and many more. It is also used in celebrating different occasions like, baptism, matrimony, graduation, promotion on work, thanksgiving, fiestas or festivals and also occasion in remembering departed love ones.  READ MORE>>>



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