Sabahan Tapai – It’s Good Stuff and it’s not Tuak!

So one of Pats’ friends came back from Sabah I think, or somewhere over that side of East Malaysia, and brought is a bottle of Tapai, or local Rice Wine (Tuak is from Sarawak right?).

You can buy it for a small fortune in some posh bars in Bangsar, which will give you a headache..but this is the real deal, served in a reused Tiger Beer bottle with a plastic cap!

It’s from Kadazan culture I’m led to believe.

Kadazan culture is heavily influenced by the farming of rice, culminating in various delicacies and alcoholic drinks prepared through differing home-brewed fermentation processes. Tapai and lihing are the main rice wine variants served and consumed in Kadazan populated areas, and are a staple of Kadazan social gatherings and ceremonies.

Pat dishing out the goods, the dirty liquor pimp.

Pat and Tapai

Had trouble remembering the name because of the creative labelling.

Hornbill Pee

Lot’s of glasses, yay!


It’s pretty smooth stuff, it doesn’t taste very strong, but kinda gently knocks your head off and leaves you feeling nicely warm and fuzzy.

It’s got a tangy aftertaste, I guess it’s like a much stronger version of Toddy.

I’d recommend it to anyone ‘Hic’.




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11 Responses to Sabahan Tapai – It’s Good Stuff and it’s not Tuak!

  1. kimberlycun May 19, 2006 at 12:45 pm #


  2. lionel May 19, 2006 at 12:54 pm #

    > It’s pretty smooth stuff, it doesn’t taste very strong, but kinda gently knocks your head off and leaves you feeling nicely warm and fuzzy.

    Quite accurate. It’s good shit. 🙂

  3. spiller May 19, 2006 at 3:33 pm #

    so if it’s from Sarawak, then it’ll be called “Cat Pee”?

  4. Pat May 19, 2006 at 5:46 pm #

    I prefer little children myself. :p

  5. Ront May 19, 2006 at 8:46 pm #

    cat is only associated with Kuching……Sarawak on the other hand has been known as Land of Hornbills and also has a hornbill as its emblem.

    that tapai looks just like tuak…….if you go to Swak..should try to source for Langkau …the distilled version of tuak….that should give you a pretty nice buzz..

  6. Kleine Maus May 20, 2006 at 3:02 am #

    yes, Tuak is from Sarawak ( rice wine ).

    Cat only symbolises Kuching. Kuching and Sarawak are not synonymous!

  7. edmc May 20, 2006 at 12:24 pm #

    o_O you should come down to KK for the harvest festival. it’ll be everywhere then! maybe even try another type of rice wine from the jar, the sosopon. i call them the slow killer.

  8. ShaolinTiger May 20, 2006 at 12:47 pm #

    kimberly: Yah Pat was very happy with your comment, I must say hahaha

    lionel: Yah send/bring me some more please!

    spiller: I guess so?

    Ront: Yah I’m planning on heading over there some time, will bear that in mind, thanks!

    Sounds like a great idea, isn’t the harvest festival around now?

  9. edmc May 20, 2006 at 9:16 pm #

    Harvest festival in Sabah is on the 30th & 31st May. But the heavy drinkings continues all year long..haha!

  10. pinolobu May 22, 2006 at 5:19 pm #

    i’m a sabahan, not a local brew expert, but i’ve sampled (and sometimes drank too much) the most popular local brews. this is my take:

    tapai a.k.a kinomol: least powerful, although its strength depends on a whole lot of things. Also, tapai is not necessarily brewed with rice as the main ingredient: i’ve heard it done with pineapples. personally i like tapai best served as a “tumpung” – in a huge mug created with used plastic cooking oil container + straw. It’s like your own personal “sosopon.”

    lihing : sweeter, richer, stronger than tapai, probably 10-20% in strength

    montoku a.k.a talak a.k.a sikat: strongest, equivalent to brandy/whisky strength. Even I cannot stand the smell of this.

    bahar: totally non-rice based – made with coconut juice (from the tree, not the fruit). Red in colour. I think bahar qualifies as one of the drinks in the Fear Factor.

    For a no-holds barred (by malaysian standards), irreverent travel guide/blog on sabah, add to your bloglines feed the following site done by my friend SmokeHead:

    contains lots of updated news and pics about Harvest Festival which you simply cannot get anywhere else

  11. Carynn Josue January 20, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    Astaga… lol… the “hornbill pee” really makes me laugh. Even I am half kadazan but i never tried tapai before. Maybe I should, one day…