Christmas celebrations took a hit in the Philippines after 11 people were killed and 300 were hospitalized after drinking a popular coconut wine on Monday.
A Reuters report said that most of the victims were from Laguna and Quezon, located south of Manila. It is reported that the victims of the poisoning had consumed lambanog, a drink that is widely popular especially in the provincial areas of the Philippines and consumed in plenty during holidays and celebrations.
Many were admitted to hospitals on the urging of mayor Vener Munoz in Rizal, Laguna, where the deaths occurred between Thursday and Sunday.
As per the latest reports, Fred Rey, the owner of "Rey Lambanog" that allegedly led to the fatal poisoning has surrendered to the police and has promised to bear all expenses of the victims. The police, however, have not arrested Fred Rey, Filipino news network ABS-CBS reported.
Last year, following a similar incident that claimed several lives, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had conducted an investigation and found that the brand of lambanog that was taken by people who later died in Laguna contained too much methanol, GMA News Online had reported.
What is lambanog?
A popular drink in the Philippines, Lambanog, is the only native alcohol that is traditionally distilled.
It is made from the sap of palm flowers and is distilled to make the drink potent. The usual alcohol content of lambanog is 80 to 90 proof (40% and 45% alcohol, respectively). Though lambanog is widely available in the Philippines, it more widely produced in the Quezon region.
It is a clear and colorless spirit, with a neutral taste. Traditionally, Lambanog is steeped with either raisins or prunes to give it a sweeter flavor. Due to the popularity of the drink and since it can be distilled even in one's kitchen, there are several illegal arrack or moonshine shacks that distill lambanog without a license.
Terming lambanog as one of the best drinks, travel writer Amanda Gabriele wrote in Thrillist: "But it's lambanog from The Philippines that is the most delicious moonshine of all."