Article by Alexander Eeckhout
Since we reported about the craft beer scene in the land of the smiles, a piece about local spirits is due as well. You are already familiar with Sang Som and Hong Thong. The rest is Johnnie Walker marching into Isan weddings and upscale nightclubs. All a bit bland.
Yet the liquor scene is becoming more exciting. Well crafted cocktails are popular as are the premium spirits they’re made with. Enters, the Thai distiller.
Thai people are artisans and this is no exception when it comes to food and beverages. They have talent when it comes to creating flavour experiences, it’s engrained in their DNA. When craft beers became popular they started making it themselves regardless of any laws. This is the same for spirits. As of now there are a couple of smaller, locally produced spirits of high quality available in bars and supermarkets. One of those is Lamai Thai Rum.
We spoke to Alex Chou, one of the people behind the rum. Alex worked for one of Thailand’s top rice processors and exporters. During that time he tried to promote the local artisan food and beverage production. When Thai cousins Kaustav Bagchi and Chris Sabdasen started making rum he decided to take part.
Lamai Thai Rum is made from 100% locally grown sugarcane. It’s distilled under a “village distillery license” which allows for local home distilleries to produce “white spirits”.
Lamai Thai Rum has won an award already and is available in Bangkok’s better bars as well as at Villa and King Power. Their latest creation, Lamoon Rum, is not commercially available but finds it way in the cocktails of places like WTF and Seven Spoons.
Next to Lamai Thai Rum, Alex started Bespoke Distillery. A craft distillery specialising in made-to-order spirits for premium bars and restaurants. Bespoke Distillery is also aiming to set up production to please the large demand for brown spirits in the region.
Alex’ mission is to contribute to the depth, variety and enjoyment of flavours. Something we can only praise and encourage. And luckily he’s not alone. Maa Jai Dum, Koh Samui Rum and Chalong Bay Rum all seem to share the same mission.
Thailand seems to have great potential for producing premium spirits. Let’s hope legislators see this too. Thailand is good at flavour, it’s time to capitalise on it.