In a glass of its own
Against stiff legislation and massive competition, Thai-made spirits are making a name for themselves.
Thailand is very well known in Western countries for its food. However, it is less known for its drinks, and for a fun-loving country, it never had much of a formal drinking culture. Now I’m not saying there isn’t a HUGE drinking culture here, that’s blatantly obvious, however, it’s just not a formal one, but things seem to be changing.
CHALONG BAY RUM
THE SPIRIT OF PHUKET
The Chalong Bay Rum Distillery has become a brand known the world around, but it started very modestly around 2012, in a remote area of Phuket called Chalong. The success of this rum comes from many aspects: the unique quality of the ingredients, the rigorous process, an eye-catching package, and smart marketing, all combined with the passion of a small team.
Blending vision and passion, creating an original handcrafted rum using sustainable production that binds the traditional French art of distillation with the rich sugarcane heritage of Thailand.
Using a traditional copper still imported from France and a centuries-old distillation process, Chalong Bay’s innovative craftsmanship has produced an award-winning rum of incredible character, originality, and smoothness, giving full expression to the 100% natural Thai sugarcane contained within.
Chalong, which means ‘celebration’ in Thai, captures the real essence of Chalong Bay, which celebrates the authentic traditions of rum-making as well as the rich mix of heritage, culture, and people that are involved in producing our award-winning natural rum.
THAI JUNGLE ESSENCE
After two years of trial and error, the makers of Chalong Bay have just released their first gin onto the market, and they’re hoping it helps further raise the banner for Thai spirits.
Phuket-made Saneha, a word that roughly translates to “passion,” draws on Thailand’s abundance in more ways than one.
The gin itself features all local ingredients, including seven botanicals that, apart from juniper, are Thai through and through: juniper, coriander, cloves, ginger flower, pineapple, sugarcane, and makwaen (prickly ash). The seductive, perfume-like packaging, meanwhile, features a Phuket hornbill amid splashes of jungle green, silver, and copper.
Unlike many other gins made from grain- or molasses-based spirits, Saneha boasts a base spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice.
It also makes Saneha remarkably versatile—good in a G&T, a cocktail involving multiple ingredients, or even neat.
Recently, they unveiled a new restaurant, fittingly named Suay x Chalong Bay Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, in partnership with chef Tammasak “Noi” Chootong of Suay, one of Phuket’s top restaurants.
IRON BALLS DISTILLERY GIN & VODKA
A UNIQUE COCKTAIL BAR & CRAFT DISTILLERY
Iron Balls was created in Bangkok by Ashley Sutton, a straight-talking, self-made premium bar designer from Western Australia with a love for the ocean. After having created some of the most jaw-dropping bar designs across Asia, Ash decided it was about time he created in the heart of Bangkok his own Asian gin.
The production of Iron Balls is extremely limited owing to the small distillery size, with master distiller Ash Sutton choosing the highest quality possible ingredients to create a truly artisan spirit. Much of the production process and ingredients are not open to the public and are kept secret but he does share that the distillation uses freshly cracked coconuts and pineapples with hints of juniper, hillside ginger, and lemongrass. You may also taste some cinnamon or nutmeg, a kick of black pepper, and/or coriander seeds. It smells extremely fruity and the sweetness from the pineapple comes through very strongly.
The venue has recently started producing vodka too, and tours of the distillery can be pre-booked.