Sangsom is simply a phenomenon and for those that have passed through Thailand, this super successful liquor will have reached at least one of your senses.
There really is no escaping the reach of this drink while you are in the Kingdom. And there are a few trusted ways that you and it will cross paths …
You’re in a bar for the first time and exchanging pleasant banter with the staff; at some point, either for being a pleasant patron or buying staff drinks, you’re handed a shot, gratis! Strong odds say that it’ll be SangSom – it could be Mekhong or Regency, but fewer bars are storing this on the shelves nowadays.
It is truly one of the tastes of Thailand and the first myth to be dispelled is that it is not a whisky. It is Rum. You are likely to be told that it is Thai whiskey if it’s your first introduction, however.
SangSom hit the shelves in 1977 (36 years after the aforementioned Mekhong), and has ruled the locally produced spirits market ever since. It is bottled at 40% ABV and is sold in 30cl, 70cl and 1l formats …
You’re at an event or venue where there are plenty of backpackers; while this could be anywhere in Thailand, you will witness, as the evening progresses, that brightly coloured or aluminum buckets are being delivered and passed around. Several straws are sticking out of the bucket and people are likely to be having a bit of raucous fun!
Understatements aside, this is the likeliest way that you will first come across SangSom. It has an unshakable and unequivocal cult following in the backpacker community and of course locally.
SangSom can best be described as a Thai sundown; not only does it have the same hue as the sun as it leaves your Thai day, but like a Thai sundown, you will experience one during your stay. A romantic consideration when choosing ‘something different’ for your next Sundowner. More magic can be acquired from enjoying a cheeky one as the sun comes up, which is something that you’re likely to be doing while on your holiday too!
SangSom is at a price point comfortable to all in the stores: 30cl for B140 and a full bottle for less than B300.
SangSom, in one’s humble opinion, is a name borne from two words and two worlds. The first syllable in the name being săeng, a prefix for the word light or beam and sŏhm, an old Thai word for moon. The old word for moon connects beautifully with the time that people would go and make their hooch: under the moonlight, in the jungle and away from the police. Ever heard of the word “Moonshine”?
It may also explain why you see it as the drink du jour at Full Moon Parties.
Best served with soda or with ginger beer. It’s a taste thing and therefore, up to you! Drink responsibly!
By Kevin Goldsmith