When I move to any new country I feel it only prudent and correct to try the local alcohol of the nation. Thus when moving to Cambodia I decided to do the same.
Most countries of the world have their own brew and Asia is no different. China has baijiu rice wine, Laos has lao lao, Vietnam makes a mean vodka and of course the Philippines has Tanduay Rum. I was excited to try what Cambodia had to offer, but alas I was to be disappointed! Not only did the internet not offer any suggestions, but even my Khmer friends told me that win the countryside some people made rice wine, but in general it was not a thing. I was not to be put off.
I then read about a rum that was made in Cambodia, only to find it was not really a rum made here, but more a kitsch flavored version made for tourists. It wasn’t all that bad, but alas did not quench my thirst for a local moonshine.
Having almost forgotten my quest I found myself in Anlong Veng by the Thai border at a wholesale shop built to serve people going to Thailand. And it was there that I saw it, Khmer Whisky.
Khmer Whisky 31 Gold being sold for 8000 Rial, or $2 for a 700 ml bottle. We obviously purchased it. From the packaging we were to garner the following information.
Khmer Whiskey is produced by the Prek Prah winery who have been making the find blend since 1997. Further investigation would show that not only do they also have a Facebook page, but they have an alright 81 likes. I had found the big players of the Cambodian whisky market.
The only thing left of course was to drink the Cambodian whiskey.How to describe Khmer Whisky 31 gold? Well the smell hits you before the taste and this is not the smell of a finely aged scotch! More North Korean than Japanese one might say.
By itself it is a little bit hard to stomach, even with ice, but with coke it is passable. You will not see Cambodian whisky even in the bars of Cambodia. This drink is seemingly made as a cheap export to be used in the bars of Thailand.
I had discovered Khmer Whisky, but my hunt for indigenous moonshine was to continue .