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White Lion VSOA

Distilled from coconut flower nectar and matured for two years in Sri Lanka, White Lion earned the Silver Medal at the 2012 SIP Awards.

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As dawn breaks across the sandy beaches of Sri Lanka, dozens of men begin climbing to the tops of the coconut trees that thrive in Sri Lanka's lush, volcanic soil. Despite its small size, Sri Lanka's unique climate and abundant rainfall have made it one of the largest coconut producers in the world; the country is even home to the Sri Lankan Coconut Research Institute.

Balancing on ropes 80 feet above the ground, the tree-climbers — known as tappers — move swiftly between trees to hand-select and harvest the yet unopened coconut flowers. The coconut flowers, which are distinct from coconuts themselves, are pollinated and drop off a tree in order to make room for the fruit.

After opening the flowers, the tappers collect the flowers' fresh nectar in clay pots (each tree naturally produces approximately 300 liters of nectar each year). Once in the clay pots, the nectar, which is rich in natural sugar and wild yeasts, begins to self-ferment into a syrup called toddy. This self-fermentation process, which does not require any artificial additives and is unique among spirits, results in a simple and incredibly pure wash.

Within four hours of being harvested, the toddy is quality-tested and transported in wooden wash backs to the Distilleries Company of Sri Lanka, the country's oldest and most prestigious distillery. At the distillery, the master-artisans double-distill a portion of the toddy through copper pot stills, while the remainder of the toddy is distilled through column stills. The two distillates are then married together in casks of Halmilla wood — a type of wood exclusive to southeast Asia — and allowed to mature for 24 months. After maturation, White Lion VSOA (which stands for Very Special Old Arrack) is expertly blended, before each bottle is filled and labeled by hand.

White Lion has a soft and gentle aroma, with hints of pears, pineapples and plums. The initial floral notes, with a sweet undertone, yield to softer notes of oak and woody spices. Because White Lion is distilled from coconut flower nectar, and not coconuts themselves, it has only a hint of coconut flavor. The finish, which is light and dry, has notes of ginger, cloves and peppercorn that are nicely balanced with a hint of honey.

"VSOA defines an entirely new class of spirits for consumers," says Kathleen Adolphson, a partner at White Lion. "Whiskey and rum drinkers alike are drawn to its exceptionally unique flavor." Distilled from coconut flower nectar, White Lion is the world's only naturally-fermented, single-ingredient spirit and earned the Silver Medal at the 2012 SIP Awards. Pick up a bottle today!

Aroma of fruit, particularly pears, pineapple and plum. Initial floral notes are sweet and yield to softer notes of oak and woody spices. Only a hint of coconut flavor. Finish has notes of ginger and cloves, which are nicely balanced with a hint of honey.

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