When I used to think of Phuket, I would picture turquoise blue water, lush green nature, and delicious Thai food. Rum was not the first thing that comes to mind.
But that has all changed since visiting the Chalong Bay Rum distillery in Phuket Thailand.
Using only locally grown sugar cane, the Chalong Bay Rum produces some top notch rum that is definitely worth your while. I am all about supporting local businesses, sustainability and eco-friendly business practices, and Chalong Bay Rum ticks all of those boxes.
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Getting to Know Chalong Bay Rum
The Chalong Bay Rum distillery was set up in 2012 by a young French couple. It was and still is their aim to bring together the traditional French-Carribean methods of producing rum using purely sugarcane juice (meaning no molasses in the mix). They combine these methods with sustainable and eco practices, such as supporting local farmers who use sustainable farming practices and produce chemical free sugarcane.
The first thing that came to my mind was why would a French couple decide to produce rum in Phuket, Thailand? You might be thinking ‘why not?’ But the real reason behind it is because Thailand is the 4th leading producer of sugarcane in the world. That’s a lot of sugarcane!
Today Chalong Bay Rum has grown into a lovely boutique rum company, producing approximately 30,000 bottles annually. They work with distributors around Europe, the US and parts of Asia, and also have won several awards including a gold medal in San Francisco at the World Spirit Competition in 2015.
The Rum Experience
We arrived to the distillery in the late afternoon and were greeted by one of the staff who explained a bit about the company. I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the space at the distillery was. It was truly a hidden gem in the heart of Phuket.
The bar area is an open space that overlooks the lovely garden surrounded by sugarcane. In the background, lounge style music is playing, while the bartender is busy mixing up cocktails. What a great spot to enjoy afternoon cocktails.
Part of the experience at the distillery is to join one of their afternoon tours. The distillery tour is held every hour in the afternoons (between 2 and 6pm), except on Sunday. The tour takes approximately 30-45 minutes, and includes a Mojito cocktail and a rum sampling session.
The tour was a great way to learn more about Chalong Bay Rum, see how it is produced, and sample a variety of rums.
Our tour guide provided us with an excellent overview of how rum is produced. I had no idea that there were 2 distinct types of rums produced – Industrial Rum and Natural Rum.
To sum it up, 95% of the world’s rum is basically Industrial Rum, which uses molasses in their production. Chalong Bay Rum does not fit into this category. Instead, it is part of the 5% population of rum producers that produce Natural Rum, which uses only sugarcane juice.
What makes Chalong Bay Rum even more unique is that of the over 200 varieties of sugarcane to choose from in Thailand alone, the team carefully decided to use a Thai indigenous variety of sugarcane. And so they work closely with local farmers who grow this variety of sugarcane chemical free and harvest the sugarcane by hand. You see, by harvesting the sugarcane by hand (not burning it like most sugarcane farmers do), you are able to retain the natural richness of the sugarcane flavour.
Need more reasons to visit Phuket? Check out my 10 reasons why you should visit Phuket.
During the tour, we also learn more about the fermentation and distillation process. A show piece of the distillery is their copper distillation machine, which was imported from France. They use copper steel in particular because it is a natural bacteria killer.
After the tour, we headed back to the bar area where we did a tasting session.
You see, Rum is my spirit of choice. And I have been happily drinking a number of brands including ones from Cuba and the US. Never did I think that a brand from Phuket Thailand would change my opinion, but boy was I wrong! Chalong Bay Rum has totally change my palette for rum.
I thoroughly enjoyed Chalong Bay Rum; I found it to be rich in quality and flavour. Our tour guide made us try a ‘Ti’Punch,’ which combined rum, sugar syrup and lime juice – delicious. I have just found a new way to enjoy rum, which has so much less calories!
Cocktails at the Bar
After the tour, Hubby and I settled in at the bar and enjoyed some food and cocktails. It was hard to decide what cocktails to go with, because they all sounded delicious. I finally ended up picking the Chalong Bay Sour and the Passion Fruit Caiprioska.
If you need help to decide what to drink –
- If you are looking for something refreshing, I would go with a Mojito.
- If you are wanting something fruity, then order the Passion Fruit Caiprioska
- And if you are after something that is not so sweet and has a bit of a tang, then the Chalong Bay Sour is for you.
The bar also offers a small tapas menu, which perfectly compliments the cocktails. From shoe string fries to mixed dips to chicken skewers, there is a little bit of something for everyone.
Well I did leave the distillery with 2 bottles of Chalong Bay Rum, so it’s safe to say that I really enjoyed my experience here. And I will be back!
If you find yourself in Phuket, Thailand, I recommend checking out the Chalong Bay Rum distillery. The distillery tour is held every hour in the afternoons (between 2 and 6pm), except on Sunday. It is 300 THB per person and takes approximately 30-45 minutes, and includes a Mojito cocktail and a rum sampling session.
You can purchase Chalong Bay Rum from the distillery itself or look out for one of their international distributors listed on their website. To visit, check out the Chalong Bay Rum website for more information regarding their opening hours and distillery tours.
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No compensation was received for this review, however the Chalong Bay Rum Distillery provided my visit complimentary. I did purchase 2 bottles of rum, because I loved the product! All opinions remains my own.