PANAJI, April 11: Even as liquor stores in Goa downed their shutters amid the COVID-19 lockdown, locals are increasingly opting for traditional hurrack as a substitute for their beer and brandy.
Distilleries manufacturing hurrack, which are found in every nook and corner of Goa's villages, have even been asked to home deliver the brew.
"There is a huge demand for hurrack these days. People have been trying to purchase hurrack by any means possible," said Mac Vaz, founder-president of Cashew Distillers and Bottlers' Association.
Hundreds of wine shops in the coastal state were shut, following the nationwide lockdown, which was imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Hurrack, which is made from cashew apple juice, is not commercially sold, but is bottled up at backyard distilleries spread across Goan villages.
A one litre bottle of hurrack costs around Rs 100, and it is important to note that distillers have not hiked the price of this summer brew despite the rise in demand, Vaz said.
Vikas Prabhu, a cashew grower based in Nirancal near Ponda, said most of the hurrack is purchased for home consumption and the drink does not have a long shelf-life.
"People wait for the hurrack season, but the demand for the traditional drink has gone up as wine shops are closed," he said, adding that the brew is a strong substitute for any good quality drink and is affordable.
The rise in demand is helping cashew growers, who are also involved in distilling the cashew apple juice at their farms, Prabhu said.
Meanwhile, president of All Goa Liquor Traders' Association Dattaprasad Naik said they will keep wine shops shut, till the government asks them to do so.
"We support the government in its fight against coronavirus. Wine shops are also one of the most vulnerable places where deadly virus can spread, as people from different sections of the society turn up here," he said. - PTI