Recommended use: Serve neat, mix.
Malt Mileage Rating: ★★★
Type: Thai spirit (flavoured rum)
Origin: Bangkok, Thailand
We were at Bangpop Thai restaurant in South Wharf Melbourne, with our bellies full of their absolutely delicious Druken Prawns and Green Papaya salad. Feeling like a tipple, I asked the staff for a drinks menu. There were a number of Scotches and rums to choose from on the menu, but “Mekhong” in the “whiskey” list caught my attention. I ordered it.
Mekhong is distilled, blended, and bottled at the Bangyikhan Distillery near Bangkok. Mekhong is not a whiskey but it is closer to a flavoured rum – it is distilled from 95% molasses and 5% rice (whereas whisk(e)y must be distilled from grain; barley is used to make single malt Scotch whisky and a mash of at least 51% corn is used to make bourbon whiskey for example). Mekhong is therefore a Thai spirit. It is flavoured and coloured.
When the measure of Mekhong arrived at my table it was clear that it was not a whiskey. From the aroma of the spirit it was obviously very rummy – sugary with heavy molasses, confectionery coffee, spice and toffee. On the palate the spirit was pleasant and palatable, very mild and easy drinking with a thin watery mouth feel – on the entry I detected the molasses and sugars, followed by mint or eucalyptus, candied ginger, vanilla, toffee, caramel and a syrupy finish of rum baba, mild zest and coffee confectionery. The finish itself is decent, and the sweetness lingered on my palate for about 30 seconds after swallowing the spirit.
I understand that this spirit is $3.50 a bottle in Thailand; though with import duties and taxes on alcohol it is likely to be much more highly priced in Australia, the UK etc. Overall, Mekhong Thai spirit is a very easy drinking and palatable spirit with pleasant flavours though it has a mildly unsettling taste of sharp ethanol, a thin texture and lacks the oak driven punch you would expect from most other whisk(e)y and rum. If you ever find yourself in Thailand, and you are after a light rummy spirit or you are just curious, it is well worth parting with $3.50 to try Mekhong. While Mekhong is both coloured and flavoured, and this practice would raise eye brows in most parts of the spirit producing world, let’s accept this spirit for what it is: a very low priced and drinkable flavoured Thai spirit made from 95% molasses and 5% rice. Worth a try.