Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thai Whiskey: Mekhong v. Sang Som

The primary ingredient in most thai-buckets, Thai Whiskey, is a liquor that is popular with both Thais and travellers alike.  Tourists in Thailand are likely to owe a few hangovers to the brown liquor commonly purchased from a 7-11. Despite being known in Thailand as “Thai Whiskey”, it is actually a spiced rum. That is, the primary ingredient is molasses, whereas whiskey is a product of distilling alcohol made from grains.  The two brands that backpackers will most often find at the bottom of their bucket are Mekhong and Sangsom.

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.

Thai Bucket

ไชโย! Cheers!


timinphuket said...

Sang som is the winner for my friend here...

Anonymous said...

Sangsom won´t let you down... ;o)
P. Rex

Anonymous said...

Fuck that shit its lethal I bought a small bottle from a 7/11 in Phuket to see what it was like never again had such a bad headache for the best part of 3 days afterwards

Spurinator said...

Last time i drank Mekhong the bottle was actually a time machine. After i drank it, i woke up 3 days in the future

Anonymous said...

Sangsom & soda with red bull... no problem drinking this mix down spent all night downing buckets with a friend of mine thats is a doctor(surgeon)& the next day ... no hangover. try that with any other liquor & see how you feel ..sangsom is quality rum not whisky so give credit where credit is due,that crap feeling you get the next day is from the mixer people not the liquor,equally try mekhong with coconut water ... no hangover there either. ive felt bigger hangovers with stella then i ever felt with mekhong or sangsom.

Anonymous said...

Anon is full of shit. That stuff is gasoline mixed with regret and shame.

Anonymous said...

It's good shit, drink it down.

Anonymous said...

Bro, I drink Sang all the time.
If you have any more than ten drink, youll have a hangover.. like anything else.. but.. stay away from the redbull.. just drink it with soda.. youll wake up fine.. in fact.. i just about drank a mickey tonight, and i have to be up at 530 to go teach kindergarten.

Anonymous said...

Mekhong gave me an out of body experience, probably wont get smashed on it again (the locals did warn me :)
Sang Som though no worries sippin straight from the bottle

Anonymous said...

don't drink it with coke. thais drink it with water

Anonymous said...

I drank bacardi all my life and I find sangsom much kinder on the head

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