If you ever travel to Phuket for a holiday or business trip, we would strongly recommend you to check out Chalong Bay Distillery. We had the chance to know more about their story through the following interview which comes with a recipe that you can try out making at home. All thanks to Chalong Bay Distillery PR’s assistance!
How Did The Journey of Chalong Bay Distillery Start?
Chalong Bay’s journey started from the dream of two passionate young French, Marine Lucchini, and Thibault Spithakis, who aspired to unite French and Thai traditions by bringing back the heritage of Rhum Agricole to the origin of sugarcane, while also integrating their values of sustainability, respect for the environment and local communities.
Along with their like-minded, passionate Thai partners – Khun Bpaeng, Khun Lek and Khun Dao, they brought the dream of Chalong Bay to fruition, and also built a family, support communities and create a whole new spirit that unites us.
What Are The Greatest Challenges Ever Face When Setting Up This Distillery. And Do All of You Have Any Inspirations or Interesting Things to Share Throughout This Journey?
We find that no matter where you are in the world, alcohol production is highly regulated, making it a rather daunting process.
Currently, one of the main challenges we continually face is that local regulations prevent us from developing methods or products that would be valuable on the international market. However, this just gives us more drive to be creative.
Retrospectively, because we built this dream from the bottom up, we have faced many challenges.
We did most of our distillery and bar by hand – no agencies, architects, design agencies, packaging agencies. It truly is a spirit of passion and giving our all to this project.
It taught us to challenge our limits, that everything is possible when we dream big and work hard, to believe in ourselves, and that to every problem there is a solution.
Additionally, we learned to be patient, and take things to step by step.
One main challenge from the very beginning was the fact that Thais do not see their local spirits as qualitative and saw this project as impossible to realize – it was very hard to even find employees to work with us and believe in us. People would not line up for interviews, or stay 3 days and then leave. We had given up on finding a permanent employee and on formal employment contracts.
However, we found our first partner, Bpaeng, informally and unexpectedly. We agreed to start a mission base project for a few days. But finally, she became the first crazy, like-minded adventurer to believe in the project, and with her we went through a whole series of crazy adventures to build it all, dedicating everything to this project day and night. There were some nights where we even ended up sleeping on the concrete floor of the distillery while it was still under construction, as we were distilling our first drops of Chalong Bay, and got our license at the very end of sugarcane season.
From there, we made things happen slowly but surely and grew our close-knit, passionate family. It took us 2 years to set everything up and sell our first bottle – 2 years of passionate work and believing without knowing if it would work out in the end.
Finding our sugarcane farmers was also a challenge, as there is no farmer register. It brought us on interesting adventures all around Thailand to try and find the sugarcane that we would use to make this very special rum, and the special people and communities that would become our partners to grow it all organically, in respect of the environment. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Another challenge was proving the quality of our product and opening the market for it. Making rum from sugarcane is a French Caribbean tradition, and was not known in Thailand. At that time, there was also no premium spirits produced in Thailand. But Thailand has amazing varieties of sugarcane, which is part of their heritage, traditions, and agricultural treasures. So proving quality, legitimacy, and changing mindsets was a big challenge.
The beginning of our journey was about believing in what we were doing, patience, and eating a lot of rice and we are so thankful to have met the beautiful passionate people that heartedly contributed and still contribute to making this dream happen, and to see that people value and appreciate our product and feel that we put our heart, passion, and care into it.
Chalong Bay’s Chef Oil graduated from Le Cordon Bleu where she studied the art of French cuisine.
After graduation, she further developed her skills at Morimoto Japanese Fusion, Jamie’s Italian in Bangkok, Bunker Sathorn and a handful of French fine-dining restaurants.
Spanish Style Gambas
Shrimps sauteed in lemon-garlic chili sauce served with bread
However, she felt compelled to come back home to Phuket and develop more traditional southern dishes with fresh, local ingredients combined with her international techniques.
Quinoa Salad – Extreme Right
Quinoa with bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, romaine lettuce, capsicum & feta cheese with garlic vinaigrette.
Fresh Spring Rolls (Vegetarian or Shrimps) – Extreme Left
Thai spring rolls with fresh basil, mint, local vegetables & noodles served with peanut sauce
Crispy Pork Belly
Here at Chalong Bay, Chef Oil has teamed up with our head mixologist to bond her dishes with ingredients used to create Chalong Bay, or by including Chalong Bay itself in the recipe, and pairing them with carefully crafted cocktails to offer our guests a truly unique tasting experience.
Any Dessert Recipe To Share Using Your Rum?
We’ve taken the traditional Banana Flambe and given it a twist by using our Chalong Bay Pure Series in favor of Grand Manier or brandy. To offer that distinctive orange flavor, we created an orange butter sauce accompanied by Chalong Bay Rum Raisin ice cream and, of course, local bananas.
3 Small Bananas
25ml Whipped Cream
25ml Orange Juice
30ml Chalong Bay Pure Series
85g Chalong Bay Rum Raisin Ice Cream
Pinch of Salt
- Melt sugar and pinch of salt in a pan over the open flame until caramelized.
- Add butter and banana.
- Once the banana is cooked through, flambee with Chalong Bay Pure Series and add orange juice.
- Plate with whipped cream, Chalong Bay rum raisin and peppermint to garnish.
On the distillery side, we have developed unique experiences to enjoy within the heart of the distillery, such as cocktail workshops, tastings, and distillery visits.
If it happens to be a Thursday, make sure to come to our Latin Fire Night, the nicest party on the island – happy, fun and supported by a very cool Chalong Bay community.
On the rum side, we have a new addition to the Chalong Bay family, just recently launched in Thailand – Chalong Bay White Spiced.
In our latest creation, we’ve combined 9 carefully selected exotic Thai and Southeast Asian botanicals, such as Thai sweet basil, chilli, vanilla, pandan and cinnamon, to produce our Asian twist on the traditional spiced spirit, created without additives or sugar, using a rare and specialized distillation method which extracts the essence of the natural botanicals contained within.
Chalong Bay White Spiced can be enjoyed neat or with ginger ale, or premium mixers.
Stay tuned for more surprises we are preparing in the next coming months!
14/2 MOO 2 SOI PALAI 2 T. CHALONG A. MUANG, PHUKET 83130
Operation Hour: 11:00AM to 11:00PM Daily
Contact No.: +66(0)93 575 1119