Choose from Three Options
- $15 for distillery tour and tasting for two, with two souvenir glasses ($30 value)
- $30 for distillery tour and tasting for four, with four souvenir glasses ($60 value)
- $199 for a 3-hour distillery tour and tasting party space for up to 15 people ($400 value)
Guests are free to bring their own food and utensils for option 3’s tasting party.
Nahmias et Fils Distillery
There's a very good chance that reading this sentence is the first time you've ever heard of mahia. And that's understandable. The U.S.—and most of the world, really—is practically dry of this rare Moroccan brandy. In fact, Nahmias et Fils is the country's only distiller of the stuff. So what is mahia, exactly? The short answer, as provided by Nahmias et Fils: Mahia is to Morocco as tequila is to Mexico. The longer answer? Read on:
It's Moroccan. OK, so we kind of covered this already. But more specifically, the centuries-old intoxicant was the national spirit there, filling glasses at bars throughout Casablanca and beyond. Like whisky in Gaelic or aquavit in Latin, "mahia" can be translated as "water of life".
It's made from figs. And that's about it. Traditionally, mahia can be made from figs, dates, or grapes, though Nahmias exclusively uses California figs. (Five pounds in each bottle, to be exact.) The brandy is distilled entirely from them, with a bit of aniseed thrown in for good, spicy measure.
It's nostalgic. David and Dorit Nahmias, the husband-wife namesake of the distillery, use a recipe David's family developed in 1900 in the small Moroccan village of Taznakht. That recipe is precious, as the vast majority of Jewish residents left Morocco following its French occupation. As a result, production of mahia all but disappeared. Even today, it can be difficult to find there.
It's versatile. Despite the singularity of flavor "fig brandy" implies, it's actually a pretty compliant spirit. You can cook with it, mix cocktails with it, or simply pour it over ice with a splash of citrus.
It brings people together. As David explained to NPR's All Things Considered, Jews were the principal producers of mahia in Morocco because it's a predominantly Muslim country. But there were all types eager to sip it. "I grew up with people constantly coming to our home and asking for mahia—the Jews, Muslims, even the cops... so mahia was part of the tradition of living with people, Jews and Muslims, together."