North Korea to launch ‘first whisky’ this year

Reports claim that North Korea is to launch what it is thought to be its first whisky from Samilpo Distillery this year, with the bottle and label said to have been inspired by Diageo’s blended Scotch brand Johnnie Walker.

Image: Young Pioneer Tours

As reported by Young Pioneer Tours, a Chinese travel agency which organises trips to North Korea and claims to have sampled bottles of the whisky, the spirit will hit stores later this year.

Few details relating to the new ‘whisky’ have been released such as its mash bill, for how long it has been aged and the barrels it has been stored in.

Young Pioneer Tours reports that the Samilpo whisky, made near the lake of the same name in the south east of the country, will be available in three different versions: a 40% ABV spirit (black label), a 42% ABV spirit (red label) and a 45% ABV version which has not yet been released.

The director of the distillery told the tour operator that there are 15 types of amino acids present in the whisky. He also made the dubious claim that it would “reduce harm to your liver” and also “reduce the negative side effects of alcohol abuse”.

The spirit is due to hit stores in Pyongyang later this year, including the Kwangbok Department store. The bottles will each retail for US$15.

The distillery director told Young Pioneer that there are plans to export the whisky once the political situation improves.

In November 2017, the European Union increased its sanctions against North Korea, imposing restrictions on restrictions on alcoholic beverages to include saké and beer in additional to wine and Champagne.

A number of arrests and seizures have been made in recent years as individuals attempt to smuggle alcohol into the country. In February this year Dutch customs seized 90,000 bottles of vodka found buried beneath an airplane fuselage on a Chinese ship believed to be bound for North Korea.

In July last year a Singapore businessman was charged with supplying luxury goods including wine and spirits to North Korea in defiance of UN sanctions, while in January two Chinese nationals were accused of violating Japanese sanctions for selling banned goods to North Korea including bottles of whisky, brandy and other alcoholic beverages.

Meanwhile, in February last year, North Korea’s only brewery launched an “exclusive” new beer made with wheat instead of barley, according to the country’s state-run news.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is allegedly rather fond of alcohol. In October 2016 it was reported that he he once drank 10 bottles of Bordeaux in one night, while in 2014 he had it was claimed the political figure had taken to necking copious bottles of snake wine in a bid to get his wife pregnant.

His love of fine wines, spirits and rich food apparently made him so fat he fractured his ankles. It was reported in 2014 that he picked up the injury “during a gruelling tour of military bases and factories in Cuban heels” although other reports suggested he had developed gout.

One Response to “North Korea to launch ‘first whisky’ this year”

  1. Charles Crawfurd says:

    Probably so radioactive it will glow in the dark. Think I will stick to more conventional sources of ‘uisge beatha’ thanks

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