Coming out of Iran this week it’s been reported that there have been more than seven deaths, multiple cases of blindness and more than 300 illnesses after people consumed arak, a cheap and intoxicating moonshine made from raisins.
As is the case with corn-based moonshine, which can contain small amounts of methanol in the first 20 ounces or so of liquid that comes off the still, raisin-based moonshine can also produce methanol. Some in Iran believe the real culprit in the arak may be sawdust, which would contain the pectin that makes methanol poisonous. (Read more here.)
Deepest sympathies to those who’ve been hurt and killed in Iran by the poisonous arak. I can’t urge all of my readers enough to know where you’re getting moonshine from — there are plenty of legal ways to get it here in the states, at least — and how it was produced. If you’re living in Iran and are not sure, it’s probably best not to drink arak until authorities get to the bottom of what’s causing the illnesses.