Boukha is a popular Tunisian-Jewish fig spirit that is a staple of Djerba island. The spirit is made from fermented figs and is clear and colorless. Yaakov Bokobsa brewed the beverage for the first time in 1820.
Paradoxically, even though Tunisians were never that big drinkers, at least the majority of them, they have been disproportionally involved in the drinks business over the decades. During colonial era, a relatively high percentage of Tunisians were distillers.
For instance, Tunisian wine has a long history dating back to antiquity, as do the wines of other Mediterranean nations, including Phoenicia and Carthage. The agronomist Mago, who lived in the city of Carthage, authored a book on viticulture and agronomy, whose techniques are still in use today. Despite the arrival of a Muslim rule in Tunisia in the seventh century A.D., vineyards and wine production continued. A significant amount of Tunisia’s wine production consists of rosé.
Tunisians, particularly the young, drink an inordinate amount of Beers. It is by far the largest-selling drink in Tunisia.
While Whisky belongs to the Scots, Irish, Americans or Canadians, depending where it is made. Vodka is a product of Poland and Russia, though it has become more global recently. However, there are two little-known spirits that were made by Tunisians and for Tunisians. And here, we are referring to the Lagmi and Boukha.
The Boukha liquor is made from fermented figs and is clear and colorless. Yaakov Bokobsa brewed the beverage for the first time in 1820. In 1870, Bokobsa and his sons perfected the recipe, and the drink is still prepared using traditional methods and the old, secret recipe.
Boukha is a warming spirit with complex raisin and spice flavors. It can be consumed neat, preferably well-chilled, or as an ingredient in cocktails. The alcohol percentage of Boukha is 37.5 percent ABV.
Boukha may be considered an eau de vie. The French term translates as “water of life.” It is really a brandy made from fruits. An eau de vie is made by crushing and fermenting the fruit and then distilling the liquid mash, or fruit wine, produced. The result is a colorless, dry spirit with, ideally, a delicate fruit aroma. The whole idea is to capture the flavor of the main ingredient. The most famous eau de vie is arguably Boukha that is from Tunisia and was traditionally made from figs.
In practice, the window of opportunity for enjoying fresh figs is relatively small. They can be used to make jam, but the vast majority are dried because the delicate, little, ripe fig cannot be transported. The delicate fruit begins to degrade as soon as it is harvested. Consequently, setting away figs for distillation was a prudent response to the fruit’s short shelf life.
The Bokobsas have been Boukha’s home for many years. The family is of Tunisian descent. When the family moved to France, they continued the tradition. Today, Bokobsa, which is still a family-owned firm, is the international representative of Boukha and a leading producer and distributor of kosher wines and spirits. Today,
Boukha is best served as an aperitif. Some choose to have it as a digestif after dinner.
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