Magic Alambic Rum Distillery in the Southern Thai island of Koh Samui produces rum using equipment imported from France and sugarcane from Northern Thailand, which is very sweet because of the humidity. Is it the world’s smoothest rum?
Go to a place like Koh Samui on holiday and you can lie around by the swimming pool and sip yummy cocktails all day.
But what if you decide to settle down in such an idyllic place?
“If you come here for two or three weeks, you can relax,” says Elisa Gabrel, director of Magic Alambic Rum Distillery.
“But if you live here, you have to do something. We decided to distill alcohol.”
Elisa, a native of the Carribean island of Martinque, and her husband first visited Koh Samui, an island off the Southeastern coast of Thailand, 15 years ago. They moved there in 2002.
“We wanted to distill alcohol from fruit because there is so much here, but it wasn’t successful,” Elisa says.
“Then someone suggested we produce rum because there is sugarcane here. And the sugarcane in Thailand is of a very high quality. Because of the humidity, it is very sweet, and it makes very good rum.”
In a distillery that is about two thirds of the size of my living room in Hong Kong, they process 10 tonnes of sugarcane a week.
“The rum is very smooth, not aggressive, and easy to drink,” Elisa says in her charming French accent.
The Magic Alambic Rum Distillery makes five kinds of rum: natural, lime, orange, pineapple, and coconut. It also makes fruit syrups, which make yummy cocktails.
“This started as a hobby, but now we sell to factories, hotels, and restaurants,” Elisa says.
First Koh Samui, Then the World!
The output is sold locally through agents and direct by courier to buyers in Bangkok, Hua Hin, and Phuket. It is also sent by post to enthusiastic buyers around the world.
“About the only place we can’t export to is the United States,” Elisa says.
Upon leaving the distillery, the travel writers and photographers on this press trip from Hong Kong to Thailand all purchased at least one bottle of rum and one bottle of lime syrup to take back home.
My two bottles didn’t make it past Bangkok.
UPDATE! Restaurant Opens!
I visited Magic Alambic Rum Distillery on a press trip to Koh Samui in 2011 and was very impressed with the quality of the rum that was produced there.
I was also charmed by Elisa and her story of how the distillery came about.
Unfortunately, the photos I took disappeared when my blog switched servers, but the post I wrote continues to get hits after all these years.
Discovering that the post was experiencing on upsurge in traffic, I decided to revisit it.
The post looked a bit drab without any pictures, so I googled the distillery, hoping I might be able to borrow a couple of photos to insert into the post.
I was delighted to find out that a restaurant had been added in 2014!
When I was at the distillery, it was possible to order rum-based cocktails in the patio, but I don’t believe food was served.
Called La Route du Rum, which is French for “the route to rum”, the restaurant serves traditional Thai dishes – from surf to turf to Bangkok-style curries.
I haven’t eaten at the restaurant yet, but it is certainly high on my “must do” list the next time I am in Koh Samui!
Click here for more information and photos: Samui International Tourism Office/Magic Alambic Samui Rum
Magic Alambic Rum Distillery – 44/F Moo 3, Namuang, Koh Samui, Suratthani, Thailand.