The tree is tapped and the juice is collected in jugs. You can see a white jug under the overturned palm tree collecting juice in the photo above.
Here is a closer view of the gash made in the tree trunk to induce the juice to run out. Bees love it. I was offered a taste of the raw juice. It’s very sweet and goes down like lemonade.
Nestor showed us the drums where the raw juice ferments for one day. Then you have palm wine.
Bees can’t get enough of the stuff and will collect on top of any uncovered drum of the fermenting palm wine. Some of them drown, but most of these are just drunk. They are sieved off and set aside, and when they recover their senses, they fly away.
To make apeteshie, the palm wine goes through a distilling process which takes several days. Stanley was very impressed with this still setup.
The palm wine is heated in the first drum, which is set on a platform raised enough to make a fire underneath.
The liquid is run through a three-barrel cooling system. Here you can see the tubes near the bottom third of the barrel connecting barrel 2 to barrel 3.
The distilled apeteshie is collected in these jugs.
And when it’s finished, here’s your white lightning. This I did not taste, as I’m familiar with it from having drunk some while I was living in Togo. It’s very strong and for me requires a mixer like 7-Up or Schweppe’s Bitter Lemon.
As we drove off, I started thinking of what I wanted to photograph next.