Sugarcane wine, known in the vernacular as Basi, is among the oldest traditional wines in the Philippines.
Records show that the Ilocano wine was introduced in the northern Philippines in the 17th Century. The drink was described by Dampier in a book written in 1686 as a liquor “similar to English beer.” While it is referred to as a wine today, Basi has its own classification in the world of alcoholic beverages.
All cultivated sugarcane crops in the north were made into Basi in the 17th Century and this still holds true today. According to historical records, the name Basi came from Bashee Island (now Batanes) because of the popularity of the drink in the area.
Largely produced by Ilocano winemakers, Basi is still made in the region and is bottled by a few families who have been making this wine for centuries.