Magic Alambic Rum Distillery is an island treasure, home to Koh Samui’s best (and only) home-grown rum. While Thai whisky and Singha are the local tipple, tourists can trot straight to Magic Alambic for cocktails and concoctions with pure island taste.
Magic Alambic Rum Distillery (La Route du Rum)
Koh Samui’s rum distillery is rustic and 100% home-grown – a tiny, charming, rather French, alcoholic farmer’s market around long before ‘local’ became a buzzword. New-ish ownership is breathing brilliant new life into this lovely spot – and the on-site French restaurant (La Route du Rum) is utterly fantastic.
Visting Koh Samui’s rum distillery
Like anything worth having, you must commit to your rum excursion. How to get to Magic Alambic? Unless you’re staying way down on Samui’s south coast in nearby Bang Kao or Laem Sor, the distillery and on-site tasting room aren’t in a location you’d otherwise encounter. We really recommend renting a car and adding an afternoon Alambic stop on your island tour.
TIP! Visit Magic Alambic early in your holiday – as soon as you’ve rented wheels. That way you can buy a bottle to enjoy during your trip, and a few to take home. Use The Koh Samui Guide to plan your perfect island itinerary, with transport tips, Samui highlights and tons of safety advice (plus what to do before, during and after your rum-bender).
The Koh Samui Guide: “We have just had an amazing holiday on the island. Your guide was invaluable.”
Taste-testing Koh Samui rum
Arrive at Alambic down a gravel driveway and announce yourselves in the open-air tasting room, built from coconut-thatch. If you stop for rum-tasting, shots are 60 baht (approx US $1.75/£1.30). But wait! Avoid this beginner’s mistake: Before you begin your taste-test, consider if neat rum is something you could feasibly enjoy. 40 proof isn’t for the faint of heart. If you weren’t in the British Navy before 1970, you might prefer to mix your rum with soda, tonic or 7-Up. Try your taster instead as a mixed drink – there’s a bar fridge with a variety of mixers (tonic, 7-Up, Coke, etc).
TIP! Whether you’d like to taste some Koh Samui rum on site, or just buy a few bottles for later, you must try it with the house-made mixer syrup. It’s a secret recipe of brown sugar and lime juice, amongst other things.
How to enjoy Koh Samui rum?
As real Samui rum enthusiasts (there’s always a bottle on our shelves and we worry constantly it will run out before our next visit), these are our recommendations for your best Magic Alambic experience:
#1. Reward your driver: First, it’s only polite to reward your designated driver with a bottle of his/her own to enjoy later.
#2. At sunset: Magic Alambic rum is magic indeed at sunset – mix it up with the sugar syrup and some tonic. Perfect!
#3. Get cheeky: Love indulging in ‘vacation rules’? Any of Alambic’s flavours makes a nice addition to a coconut or pineapple shake. At what time of day did we discover that? Not telling.
#4. Thank your plant-waterer: Koh Samui rum makes a fantastic present! You can buy a boxed set if you’d like to dress it up.
How is Magic Alambic rum made?
*Update 2014: Magic Alambic has changed ownership – same great rum, younger French faces serving/selling it to you. Magic Alambic’s original owner (in business long before our first visit in 2003) learned rum-making in her native Martinique. The distillation process takes 4 months to dilute to 40 degrees (40 proof). In 2014, the distillery was producing approximately 8,000 bottles a year, but on a recent September 2016 visit we spotted new tanks and distilling equipment: signs of bigger things to come. When fully stocked, Koh Samui rum comes in 4 flavours: pineapple, orange, coconut and a fourth we can’t remember … possibly just rum-flavoured?
Magic Alambic’s other surprises
Before you leave, take a wander around the beautiful gardens. Tropical Thai fruit is a marvellous world, especially when you see it growing before your eyes. In the back, a grove of jackfruit trees shows off an astonishing bounty. When ripe, jackfruits can weigh up to 80 lbs and grow to three feet long!
Take Samui home
Why take a bottle of Magic Alambic home for your own consumption? For starters, one sniff and you’re right back on Samui. Add it to banana bread. (If you have an ice cream maker at home, it’s magic added to a plain vanilla concoction). If we had to pick just a handful of souvenirs to buy in Thailand, Koh Samui rum would be well up there.
For many years, Koh Samui’s rum distillery was the only one in Thailand but Phuket now has its own – Chalong Bay.
To the best of our rummy recollection, bottles of Magic Alambic are THB 280–380 (depending on the flavour). At under US $10 / approx £5 per bottle, why not stock up?
Look for the yellow sign: Magic Alambic is in Bang Kao, on Koh Samui’s south coast – a very pretty, very quiet part of the island
Where to stay nearby?
To stay nearby Magic Alambic and experience one of the quietest parts of Koh Samui, consider the following:
- Banburee Resort & Spa (☆☆☆☆)
- Easy Time Resort (☆☆☆)
- Samui Le Reve (bungalows)
- Laemsor Residence (villa)