Tag Archives: snake whiskey

Snake Wine – It Gets Worse

I don’t mean to creep you out with an eerie story, but with my ongoing learning of the wine culture, I find some of the more weird oddities of the world. Such was the case when I was looking into how other cultures make wine. The Vietnamese may have this one hands down. And this blows away eating the worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle.

Snake Wine


Yes, we all realize cultures can have vast differences but in certain parts of Southeast Asia, mainly Vietnam, they make Snake Wine. This particular type of rice wine is thought of as a medicinal cure for ailments of all kinds – I’m sure it would cure … or kill anything. Furthermore, the darn stuff is made with venomous snakes – usually cobras. But don’t worry, the rice wine alcohol (ethanol) dilutes and breaks up the poison, making it inactive. Wonderful.

Now, in a kind of strange doubling-down, the Vietnamese have conjured up Snake Bile Wine. No, I didn’t stutter, it is what it says. It’s weird considering the Vietnamese have snake wines, but they seem to have up the ante with this one. The black green bile taken from the gallbladder of a cobra in Vietnam is officially called Ruou Mat Ran.

Snake Bile Wine

You might be wondering if something got lost in the translation, but this is real and from where I’m standing, really disgusting. Scan Google for more information on this subject and you might find a few crazy stories about knocking back some nasty stuff called Snake Bile Wine. And no one appears to think it tastes very good or at best is bland. Bland? To each his own.

It’s not unusual for people to eat parts of the snake after the bottle is drank, but I would rather not. And as if one needed more reasons to stay away from this concoction, a story ran last year that a woman was bit by a snake after she opened the bottle to add more rice wine once it was empty. I’m sure the snake was feeling no pain but the lady had to go to the hospital to be checked out.

No animal is safe

Centipede, Scorpion, Seahorse, Whiskey

In case you think this is too out there, this region also produces scorpion rice wines as well as bees, giant centipedes, geckos and sea horses … oh my. Also, these same creatures can be found in whiskey (see picture at right). Ah, what heck, anything goes. By the way, here’s a video of a guy in Laos trying and not minding a shot of Snake Whiskey. This stuff is even available online.

The origins of these mixtures come from China some 3,000 years ago. During the Ming Dynasty, the medical uses of these brews were widespread and regularly used. The most common advantage of drinking this creation is that it helps with virility. Who needs Viagra guys? Serpent shooter coming up.

Creepy might be one way of describing this potion but for the people of Southeast Asia, there’s nothing strange or weird about Snake Wine. The Snake Bile Wine is more over the edge but at least you’re forewarned. Plus, now you have a great – if a bit disturbing – subject to talk about at the next party.

Additional sources: Washington Post

Down the hatch,

Daryle W. Hier