Not so in an incredible wonderland located in a quiet and leafy plot in Chalong. A community of passionate and dedicated individuals have worked their magic to create a reality from a dream that was born more than 12 years ago. That dream belonged to Marine Lucchini and Thibault Spithakis.
Two young and adventurous entrepreneurs who aspired to produce a premium artisan beverage valuing Thailand’s natural resources that had previously only been associated with the Caribbean and Latin America. That wonderland is the home of Chalong Bay, Southeast Asia’s first distillery of its kind.
Chalong Bay’s innovative craftsmanship has now produced an award-winning beverage of incredible character, originality and smoothness, giving full expression to the 100% natural Thai sugarcane contained within.
The growing team create a truly original handcrafted drink using sustainable production that binds the traditional French art of distillation with the rich sugarcane heritage of Thailand.
To Marine and Thibault, as much as the product, it’s all about distilling their unique spirit into the community and team that work closely together to make it the most unusual and inspiring international success story on the island.
On meeting the dynamic duo at their beautifully designed distillery site, which now includes the mighty fine Chalong Bay Bar and eatery, it’s evident to see the standard of quality and detail that goes into every aspect of their business.
Along with their Thai partners, P Lek, Pang and Dao, the co-founders are extremely hands-on, with Thibault now focusing on the business development and sales, whilst Marine oversees the production process and brand creative.
From meeting on an MBA course in the US, and being left uninspired to follow a conventional career path, they ventured to Thailand in their twenties armed with the history of craft production from their French heritage, and a mission to use the region’s sugarcane that naturally grows in this Kingdom.
“When we arrived in January 2011, it was our dream to create our product here in Thailand, using the rich varieties of sugarcane for flavour and taste,” said Thibault. “Our first bottle sold was on October 1, 2012. In October 2014 we went through a major re-brand and began exporting to international markets that recognised our unique process and quality. It’s a luxury as a small company to source and work directly with the farming community to create our distinguished blend.”
Chalong Bay is as much a way of life as it is an internationally renowned brand with a premium product. Along with the ‘family feel’ community that work in-house at the Chalong site, Marine and Thibault personally oversee a sustainable supply chain and support for their Thai sugarcane suppliers, which is a core principle of the company’s values.
They specifically selected small-scale farmers who struggled to make a living and pay higher wages for the organic, clean farming methods they require of their sugarcane standards. Positively, this has led to their suppliers being able to leave the sugar factories’ quota system, and become independent farmers with responsible, non-intensive harvesting methods.
Marine sums up their approach clearly in the way that everybody works together.
“It’s critical for us to maintain a sustainable business ethic, from our supply chain through to our production family. Our Chalong Bay community has strong and passionate values. We are all similar at heart.”
It’s evident that this is also very much at the heart of their future business model.
“We would never compromise on quality or our method,” Thibault confirms.
“The more we grow, the more we are able to do. Allowing farmers to become independent from the quota system and employ sustainable harvesting techniques. Along with our award-winning unique flavour, our values will enable us to compete with the international brands and provide a positive model for future generations.”
As I complete the interview, and, like Alice, am tempted by the beautifully crafted ‘Drink Me’ bottle and sample the effects… I too believe in magic.
Chalong Bay Distillery and Bar
14/2 Moo 2, Palai Soi 2, Tambon Chalong, Amphur Muang Phuket, Phuket 83130
Call: 093 575 1119