All You Need to Know About Koh Samui’s Best (And Only) Home-Grown Rum
In Thailand, there is only one accredited rum distillery. And that’s here, on Koh Samui. Magic Alambic Rum Distillery is an island treasure, home to Koh Samui’s best (and only) home-grown rum.
The only rum distillery in Thailand produces Caribbean agricole-style spirits (distilled from fresh, fermented sugarcane juice) in a variety of all natural flavors, including a delectable coconut rum obtained from soaking coconut meat in the rum for several months.
Koh Samui’s rum distillery is rustic and 100% home-grown – a tiny, charming, rather French, alcoholic farmer’s market around long before ‘local’ became a buzzword. The new-ish ownership is breathing brilliant new life into this lovely spot – and the on-site French restaurant (La Route du Rum) is utterly fantastic.
There are two ways to make rum. One is by using sugar cane and the other by using a product of this – molasses. There are many differences between the two, but the main one is the reason that molasses was ‘invented’ in the first place; sugar cane has a limited growing season. Molasses contains preservatives and can be stored and used when sugar cane is out of season. It’s a difficult process to repeat each time with any consistency, and the quality of the rum made from this is equally variable, and is categorized as ‘industrial rum’. The good stuff, the really magical and top-notch white rum made directly from cane sugar, it bears the proud certification of ‘rhum agricole’.
The ‘Magic Alambic Rum Distillery’ was set up in 2003, as a family business, by the husband and wife team of Elisa and Michel Gabriel. Every bottle that comes out of the Magic Alambic distillery is made of sugar cane. There are no preservative or additives of any kind in their rum, they use high-quality sugar cane that’s locally grown – one tonne of cane produces 700 liters of juice when crushed. And, after it has been made, it’s left to mature for one year before it goes on sale. They have several flavors; obviously, the first one is the natural white rum. Then they have pineapple, lemon, orange, and coconut. And all of the fruits are pure essences with no artificial flavorings added. It has a sweet smell because of the cane sugar but not a sweet or sticky taste. It’s high quality and very smooth, with no ‘throat burn’ at all. And you won’t get a hangover in the morning.
Although you can often find this magical rum behind the bars of many of the better resorts and restaurants across the island, the only place you can be sure of buying a bottle for yourself is from the distillery. And it’s a delightful spot to visit, tucked away in a little peaceful world of its own, down in Ban Thale, in the southern part of Samui. It’s quiet and secluded, with a separate little thatched bar where you can relax and sample shots of all the different flavours – you can even take a break from your resort and stay in one of their lovely bungalows for a day or so (or if you suddenly find that your driving skills have become somewhat impaired from all those samples!
During the ‘making’ season, which matches the cane production between January and May, you can book a tour of the production process itself – which is utterly fascinating!
Disclaimer: To the nights you’ll always remember, with the friends you’ll never forget. Please Drink Responsibly.
(Sources: Phanganist, Excursion on Samui)