HISTORY BEHIND PALM WINE TAPPING
Palmwine tapping and alcohol distillation was once a lucrative and a major occupation for our fore fathers in some farming communities and villages in West Africa especially in Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia.
As traditions and customs demand, palm wine and it’s end product local gin (Akpeteshie) in the days was very paramount and essential in all endeavours.In was used in performing several functions to project and to promote the rich cultural values and heritage in the society.
The palm wine and the local dry Gin (akpeteshie) was used as the medium of communication between the living and the Ominipotent God, the living and the gods, and the gods and the ancestors for protection and guidance from any calamities and misfortunes that may have been admonished to the community.
The palm wine and the local dry Gin, again used part from pouring libation, served during festive occasions and mournings such as festivals, naming and marriage ceremonies, funerals, enstoolment of a new chief, used to welcome some important dignitaries on courtesy calls and many others.
Traditional authorities in some communities in Ghana still patronized the use of Palm wine in a specially sanctioned days that they observed in accordance to their traditional calendar like Akwasidae which is observed every 40 days, Awukudae also observed every fortnights coupled with purifications during an abomination been caused by people against the Gods which needs purification to pleased the gods and ancestors.
The process of tapping palm wine in West Africa varies from country to country. In Ghana the palm tree is first pulled down and this will be allowed on the ground for five days untouched. Then after the fifth day the felt palm tree will be dressed by pruning all it branches or the palm fronts.
After the pruning the tapper then constructs a rectangular cavity or hole at the very neck of the palm tree or between the palm tree and the branches. Inside the rectangular cavity is a thin narrow hole with connecting a pipe tube that draws the wine into a pot or a container been placed under it. Thereafter the extraction begins.
The tapper at this stage draws the wine every morning and in the afternoon apply some heat at the very rectangular constructed cavity to make it fertile for more drawings the following morning. The collection of the drawings some times took place twice depending on the fertility of the palm tree. The drawings continuous until the palm tree becomes unproductive or barren and this occurred between 30 to 40 days
Two barrels are used at this stage one containing the fermented palm wine which will or is put on fire at a very high temperature and the other filled with water. A connecting pipe is fixed to the two barrels. Inside the barrel containing the water is a coiled pipe. The essence of this pipe is to collect or transfer vapour from the high ternperatured barrel into the barrel filled with water to help cool and condense the vapour from the boiling palm wine into Gin. The initial collections called soda water will be set aside for the real Gin.
Moreover the process of palm wine distillation comes with a lot of by-product which serves as a source of food and other usage. This includes Mushroom, edible maggot which is locally known as (Akokono) brooms etc.