Thursday, February 3, 2011
Mekhong is Thailand's first domestically produced branded golden spirit. Launched in 1941, it quickly became the most popular brand in Thailand. While Mekhong is branded as a whiskey, Mekhong is much closer to a rum, however unlike other Thai-whiskeys it does contain some rice. Its flavor and aroma are both spicy and sweet with hints of ginger, honey, toffee, vanilla, floral, herbs and citrus. The distinctive aroma and taste are created when the distilled molasses and rice spirit is blended with a secret recipe of indigenous herbs and spices. The final product is 35% ABV.
Sang Som was introduced in November 1977 and has since become the dominant brand in the Thai spirits market. Over 70 million litres are sold in Thailand each year, accounting for a market share of more than 70% in its category. The drink has won gold medals in liquor competitions in Spain and Germany and the medals are featured prominently on the product's packaging. The medals have led to it being referred to locally as "Sang Som Rianthong" (Sang Som Gold-Medal). The liquor is produced from molasses with newly produced rum being mixed with rum that has been aged in charred oak barrels for 3-5 years. After that, the spirit is blended with a special concentrate of finely selected herbs and spices to give SangSom its distinctive special taste and aroma. It is bottled at 40% ABV.
Both spirits have a unique and sweet flavour that is very enjoyable mixed with cola and maybe a splash or two of Redbull. Both Sangsom and Mehkong are owned by the same parent company, ThaiBev, which pretty well has a monopoly over the Thai-whiskey industry. Sangsom has the slight advantage of 5% higher alcohol content but whichever spirit fills your bucket can result in a fun yet forgotten night-out. Mangkorn Thong and Hong Thong are other popular brands (also ThaiBev products). If you're a liquor lover, try all varieties and decide which brand suites your taste the best, however, if you're like most backpackers and budget travellers let your wallet decide and buy the cheapest.
Thai Whiskey Cocktails:
Sabai Sabai: 1.5 shots of Thai-Whiskey, 1.5 shots fresh squeezed lemon juice, .75 shot simple sugar syrup, finger pinch of sweet Thai basil and club soda.