When it comes to wine country, the name of “Puli Town” will pop up in the mind of most Taiwanese. Puli Distillery under the Puli Farmers’ Association uses self-cultivated raw material to produce various flower and fruit wine, developing a new market for wine and liquor made in Taiwan.
In its first-ever participation in 2008 in the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, the most prominent wine contest of the world, “Love Rose”, produced by Puli Farmers’ Association, won the hearts of a panel of 240 judges with its sweet, sparkling, translucent quality and got the great honor of silver medal out of 6,189 brands from 48 countries. Among ten Taiwan-made wine in the competition, it was the only brand coming home with a prize.
Love Rose is distilled at low temperature with petals of Shanhsing rose, a particular breed only grown in Puli, being immersed in sugar cane spirit. Radiating a warm luster and bright transparency, the wine tastes smoothly sweet with a tinge of litchi flavor.
Puli Distillery brewing specialist Shen Min-hung said the edible rose has red silk hues and grows in four seasons. But its annual production only reaches one-third of looking rose, and the delicate flower is required to be bred in an environment not too hot, too cold, and too damp.
“Puli’s Shanghsing rose is grown for wine brewing on a small patch of land. For the sake of quality, insecticide is prohibited. With limited production, a kilogram of rose petals cost as high as NT$1,200. A bottle of 375cc Love Rose needs petals of five roses brewing for one year to eighteen months; its annual production averages between 40,000 and 50,000 bottles. “It was rare to use such a costly material in Taiwan, and even in the world,” said Shen.
Having a moderate climate with average temperature of 22 ?, and pure clean water, Puli is home to abundant produce and commodities. Shaohsing Liquor produced by Puli Brewery was a well-known brand around the island in early days, earning Puli the reputation of “wine country”. Recently, Puli Distillery has innovated flower wine, fruit wine production with local fruit and plants, bringing the products of the small town to a younger generation and a larger population.
For instance, Puli produced the most passion fruits in Taiwan. The Farmers’ Association ferments the passion fruit juice in low temperature and seals up the juice for aging. The passion fruit wine, a low-alcohol fruit wine, is extracted from the essence of the fermented juice.
Another special plant in Puli—Taiwan white pine—is made into liquor as well. It is produced after three distillation processes and low temperature aging. Having rich scent of pine wood, the liquor is not acrid at all despite its 39 degrees of alcohol.
Although the brewing technique of the Puli Distillery is not as skillful as that of European counterparts, the Distillery strives to make the best of all available ingredients and make innovative products. The ice wine made in Puli amazed the Europeans and received prestigious honor in Belgium, living up to Puli’s ever-lasting moniker of “wine country”.