Yilan Distillery – a walk through history
Since the Japan colony days, the Taiwanese government had monopoly over all wine production. They established or took over many wine distilleries all over the island, the oldest one being the Yilan distillery on the east coast. It was established in 1909.
宜蘭酒廠創於1909年，最初是民營。 到日治時期，政府管治台灣釀酒業和實行酒類專賣制，把酒廠轉為官辦。 今天的宜蘭酒廠已更生為觀光工廠，開放給遊人參觀。
Factory tours are very popular in Taiwan, that’s where old manufacturing factories are converted to museums and open to the public. Yilan Distillery is one of these factory tours and I went there the other month. The area is quite large and consists of various museum blocks. I found a few parts that were particularly interesting. They are the Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum, the anka museum and the wine bank.
CHA CHI LAN WINE MUSEUM
The Chia Chi Lan Wine Museum is the main museum. It exhibits a range of products developed by TTL (Taiwan Tobacco and Liquor Corp) who is Yilan Distillery’s parent and owner of 8 other distilleries around Taiwan. Taiwan Beer is the local beer and these are the different types of beer and bottle packaged throughout the years.
觀光工廠有多個主題館。 甲子蘭酒文物館是主要的館。 裏面介紹宜蘭酒廠母公司台灣菸酒出產的各類產品。 當然有本地釀製台灣啤酒， 而其他各類型產品， 包括我最喜愛的花雕雞麵， 都能在展示中心購買。 在甲子蘭館內，我見到一張醉翁八態的圖，很妙。 每個人醉後都有不同反應， 你又屬於哪一態呢?
One exhibit that I particularly like is the eight drunken styles poster. Apparently everyone behaves differently when they are drunk. Some sing and dance loudly like a monkey, some become aggressive like a lion, some can’t speak clearly but can still ask for another drink like a pig, some become more attracted to the opposite sex like a wolf… which type are you?
The other part of the museum was like a factory outlet that sells all their products. There were boxes and boxes of different types of wine, including some in special bottles like a pair of red and white chicken.
Noodle is another of TTL’s by product. Instant noodles are very popular in Taiwan and one of my favourite (third and fourth stack on the right) is a chicken one. It comes with a pouch of vacuum packed chicken meat and sachet of hua tiao, a type of rice wine. Yummy! If you have a chance, you must try it if you’re in Taiwan.
Each of the distilleries in Taiwan specialised in producing a particular type of wine. The Yilan Distillery speciality was anka wine. Anka is a type of red yeast rice that is made by fermenting rice with a special type of mold so that it eventually turns red in colour. Red yeast rice has been around in China for centuries and is said to reduce cholesterol. That’s great as a non prescriptive supplement to reduce cholesterol, except that red yeast rice contains statin. Hence the jury is still out on it.
台灣的酒廠每家都會出產自己特色的酒 。紅露酒是宜蘭酒廠的名釀。它以紅麴和糯米釀製 而得名。 台灣紅麴館展示紅麴的生產過程， 和以紅麴製成的其他食物。 當我步入紅麴館時，一陣輕輕發酵酒的味道飄過來 ， 閉上眼睛彷彿走進入了一個大釀酒桶裏。
As soon as I stepped into the anka museum I could smell a hint of yeast in the air. I don’t know if it was due to the actual building being old, or whether the yeast drifted across from the fermentation block nearby. Anyway, that added to the whole experience in learning more about red yeast rice. There was a lot of information about the production process, its uses, and the by products – cakes, sausages, dates, vinegar – quite a mixed bag.
The wine bank is my favourite of the whole Yilan Distillery visit. It’s a vault where you can store your wine till maturity or whenever you want to drink it.
最後我到酒銀行參觀。 客人買的陳年佳釀可以存放在酒窖裡。 那裏有至少上百酲佳釀， 每一個酲都掛上酒的資料。有些還寫了客人名字和價錢。 我見到最貴一酲，27公升容量要超過2000美元。如果以一般在商店買的750毫升酒，就相等於58美金一瓶!
Chinese wine is traditionally kept in ceramic containers like these. There were hundreds of these in the wine bank, all with the wine details and often owner’s name on it. The most expensive one I saw had 52% alcohol content and cost over USD2100 for 27 liter. That’s works out about USD58 a bottle, expensive than most wines but a lot cheaper than some wines I’ve seen.
VISITING YILAN DISTILLERY
The Yilan Distillery is located No. 3, Jiucheng West Road, Yilan City, Yilan County. It is open 7 days a week from 8am to 5pm. Entrance is free.
宜蘭酒廠位於宜蘭市中心， 從火車站乘搭公車步行5分鐘就到。 有機會到宜蘭可以去看看喔！