An explosion of high, health and happiness in every sip
In 1997, Laxman Shrestha established Everest Herbs Processing with the vision and passion to connect people with the power of nature. The blessing, in his words, comes in the form of Yarchagumba, a rare and unique herb that grows in meadows above 3,500 meters (roughly 11,483 feet) in Nepal. For the better part of two decades, Everest Herbs has been producing Yarchagumba based products; more specifically, the Yarchagumba Whisky. The company today is in the process of introducing two variations called Blue Sapphire and Golden Sapphire – fitting names given that Yarchagumba reaps a higher value than gold and is considered to be the world’s most expensive medicinal fungus.
So what is Yarchaghumba? It is the result of a parasitic relationship between the larva of the ghost moth and the fungus Cordycepssinensis. The fungus germinates within the larva of the ghost moth, killing and mummifying the insect. It then grows into a dark brown stalk-like fruiting body which is a few centimeters long and emerges from the corpse eventually sticking out of the soil.
Yarchaghumba has profound traditional uses in ancient Asian medical practices; however due to difficulty in acquiring it, it is today more often known for its aphrodisiacal properties. Shrestha ventured into this business in 1997 with limited knowledge about the golden fungus. He recalls, “A few foreign medical practitioners conducted research and eventually we came to the conclusion that it is not only a natural aphrodisiac but it has multiple health benefits as well. We tried making multiple products with Yarchagumba base such as tea, juice and rice but eventually we chose whisky because based on our studies, it proven that the strength of the Yarchaghumba is best preserved if made into an alcoholic beverage”.
In subsequent years, Shrestha obtained the license for running a distillery but getting Yarchagumba had become difficult as its collection was monitored and even banned for a time. He says, “It was Rs 80,000 per kg.” Additionally, the political led the business to bleed and just when they had re-gathered pace, production had to be brought to halt due to the 2015 earthquake. The company then remained dormant for years. “Today, we have found new partners and we are in business again,” shares Shrestha.
Bisu (Vicky) Goenka, Executive Managing Director explains, “Previously Laxman Dai was focused more on research. I was lucky to meet him and along with Govind Agarwal who is the current Managing Director; we decided to collaborate. He had stumbled on some rough edges in growing the company but has been working on this product for the past 25 years. Currently, we are three partners. As the creator he has the passion and we have the business acumen to take this forward successfully”.
Nepal has more than 700 species of medicinal herbs and with the exponential demand for herb-based products there is a huge potential for the country to extract herbs and generate big business.
Why Yarchaghumba whiskey? Goenka says, “I believe that Nepal has very little to export. And in terms of beverages, whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, we are import oriented. Our ambition is to create an elite class product that the whole world can appreciate, export it and bring in foreign currency into the country.”
The Yarchahumba beverage is an organic wheat alcohol brewed with Yarchagumba base and interwoven with multiple other herbs and ENA that brings out its distinctive glow. There are no added chemicals, flavours or colours. Yarhagumba is known to help improve the immune system.
The Y-beverage has gained a good amount of attention and positive response from the select few who have tasted it in Belgium, USA, India and Nepal. Some of the major benefits of Yarchagumba claimed are its ability to control cancer cell growth, increase kidney functions and help cure respiratory diseases like asthma. Shrestha is a regular consumer of his own product, and says that he has been drinking the beverage for 25 years.
The team at Everest Herbs claims that this is an innovative formula that they have concocted. According to Goenka, the beverage gives consumers a happy high and will cure 108 diseases. However, it is essential to take this beverage as a health beverage and not as medicine. Goenka claims, “I want to take this drink to the world because this will be the only alcoholic drink that benefits your health. For example, if people drink it for seven days straight, their whole molecular level will change.”
The Y-beverage comes in two variations of 750 ml each. Golden Sapphire consists of 40% alcohol and Blue Sapphire consists of 28.5% alcohol. Goenka shares that they plan to launch the Blue Sapphire into the international market soon.
“We have not compromised in the making of the product because we are not in this business to solely make money; we want it to be an export product and put Nepal on the global beverage map.” The process of making Y-beverage is time consuming. It is a handcrafted product which uses the highest quality of Yarchaghumba from Dolpa. The Y-beverage’s medicinal properties have a host of benefits ranging from anti-aging effect, improved immune system, increased stamina, better cardiovascular function, ability to fight diabetes, improve lung and liver function, cure impotence and increase sperm count and combat infertility in women.
Every sip of the Y-beverage is an explosion of high, health and happiness, claim the creators. The market price is Rs 11,000 in Nepal and US$239 in the international market.