Artisanal rum distillery is open for tours, tastings, and cocktail workshops
Words and photos by Bruce Scott
Launched back in 2012, Chalong Bay Rum is made from pure Thai sugarcane juice (not molasses, like most rum distilleries), and crafted using traditional French distillation methods. The result is an award-winning artisanal rum that has found a well-deserved place on bar shelves across Thailand—and in several countries internationally.
If you’ve tried, and no doubt enjoyed, this exceptionally smooth spirit, you can learn a little bit more about its creation with a visit to the Chalong Bay Distillery, located—not surprisingly—near Chalong Bay, in the southwestern end of the island. Admittedly the grounds here are not lavish, and the distillation and bottling facility is far from grandiose, but the thatch-roofed, outdoor Chalong Bay Rum Bar, where you can indulge in cocktails, snacks, and tastings after the tour, is a fun and funky little hang out spot that stays open till 10pm.
Finding the distillery’s exact location is a bit of a challenge, but the entrance from the road is well marked, and there’s plenty of room for parking. Once inside you can register for one of the 30-minute guided tours which take place from 2pm to 6pm, every hour on the hour. Priced at B450, the tour includes a refreshing Chalong Bay Mojito to put you in the mood, and concludes with a tasting session.
Inside the distillery there’s lots of English-language signage, which explains in detail the craftsmanship, and sustainable production aspects of this local enterprise. Indigenous, single variety, 100 percent Thai sugarcane—grown without chemical fertilizers, in partnership with local farmers who still harvest their crop by hand—produces the first-press sugarcane juice which is then distilled using an imported French copper still. Only small, handcrafted batches of rum are created, which is aged for a minimum of eight months before being bottled and labelled by hand on-site. The sugarcane itself is grown in another part of Thailand, but the rest of the operation is handled right here in Phuket.
During the post-tour tasting session, visitors can sample both the “pure” rum, as well as the five infused rums, flavoured with either lemongrass, Thai basil, cinnamon, Kaffir lime, or regular lime. The helpful and knowledgeable staff are happy to answer any questions, and the bar itself offers a selection of over three dozen rum-based beverages, ranging from mojitos and daiquiris to Thai herbal creations and twists on cocktail classics. There’s also a tapas style snack menu and, of course, some pretty spectacular rum raisin ice cream.
NOTE: Every Monday and Thursday you can sign up for a two-hour cocktail workshop, which includes a guided visit of the distillery, the making and sipping of three cocktails, and tapas snacks (B1,700). One day advance booking required, minimum two persons.
Chalong Bay Distillery
14/2 Moo 2 Soi Palai 2
Open daily: 11am-10pm
Tel: 093 575 1119