Happiness and alcohol…synonymous…and the only country in the world where national economics is steered by happiness…Bhutan -the land of the thunder dragon where the government and its citizens swears by the concept of Gross National Happiness (GHP) and where happiness is an index in formulating the economic policy of the country, also boasts of an Alcohol Policy which has been adopted under the National Policy and Strategic Framework To Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol (2015-2020). As per statistics the per capita adult consumption of alcohol is 8.47 litres as against the average global figure of 6.2 litres. Bhutan not only consumes alcohol at a higher degree than the rest of the world but also produces some of the most delightful whiskies, vodka, wine and beer which besides providing the required “kick” and “flavour” also has a history behind its name , design and production….
K5 – the Himalayan Whisky :
The first Whisky to be blended and bottled in Bhutan, K5 commemorates the coronation of the fifth King of the monarchy, His Royal Highness Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck in the year 2006. The recipe for this blend is of an “ancient Himalayan” origin and 65% of it is a blend of some 8- and 12-year-old malt whiskies distilled in Scotland and aged in bourbon and sherry casks. The remainder is Bhutanese grown, organic grain spirit which is triple distilled with mountain spring water from the numerous springs that traverse the countryside.
An easy drinking, smooth Whisky, K5 is at its best without adding water!
1907 – Limited Edition. Single Malt Whisky :
Commemorating the first king of Bhutan who took office in the year 1907, this limited edition single malt whisky was named so…only 12500 bottles of this precious alcoholic delight was bottled as a tribute to the Monarchy.
This regal single malt is packaged in a magnificent case lined with portraits of the five monarchs of the country, celebration by 100 years of happiness under their rule.
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With a taste of hazelnut and vanilla, 1907 – the limited edition single malt tastes best with a dash of added ice.
Special Courier Whisky :
One of the oldest whiskies to be blended in Bhutan, the Special Courier was first bottled in the year 1983. A favourite amongst the locals mainly for its price and availability….also for its aesthetic existence to some Bhutanese and other avid visitors to this Kingdom of Happiness.
A smoky, old fashioned Scottish grain whisky, Special Courier is just simple and drinkable any which way!
ZumZin – the Peach Wine
A favourite amongst the tourists…no one comes back from Bhutan without drinking its peach wine. Tasting absolutely like ripe, juice peaches this wine is distilled in the southern district of Samtse where peach is in abundance in its natural surroundings. In a country sold to whisky and beer, the ZumZin does stand tall as a white wine with a fruity flavour. Wine drinkers cast this Bhutanese wine as too sweet and syrupy and recommends it as a dessert wine.
A natural and pure fruit flavour with a lingering aftertaste of fresh and ripe peach.
Red Panda – Lager Beer
Brewed by Austrian emigre Fritz Maurer, somewhere amongst the hills and dales of central Bhutan in the picturesque valley of Bumthang. This lager beer comes with a dash of history dating back to the 1960s when Mourer made Bumthang his home and started a cheese production unit making some of the country’s best Gouda cheese. The brewery (which is one of the oldest microbreweries in the country)for the Red Panda lager came up next door as his pet project. This beer is a pale, straw coloured Hefeweizen and widely consumed through out the country. Named after the endangered red panda bear, this lager beer is brewed with no added preservative, in its purest form without being filtered.
Besides Red Panda, the other favourite beers in the country are Druk 11000, Bhutan Glory, Dragon Stout, Chabchhu…
Raven Prophecy – gold plated bottle of whisky
Blended and bottled as a personal gift to his father, the Raven Prophecy is a handmade, special, gold plated bottle of whisky crafted by His Royal Highness the fifth and present King of Bhutan.
Legend says that three hundred years ago, a prophecy had been sounded for the arrival of the 4th King of Bhutan…who customary was made King with the ceremony of doning the Raven Crown three hundred years thereafter. This gift filled with love and opulence, has been designed keeping the essence of the kingdom of Bhutan and their beloved 4th King….thus the name “Raven Prophecy.” The shape of the bottle takes inspiration from the Raven Crown…the wax seal on top is also embossed with the sign of the Raven…two ribbons flank the seal…one yellow symbolising the royal colour of Bhutan..and the other orange symbolising the national colour of the country…the label once again carried the Raven sign of the Prophecy along with four embossed skulls representing the deities who protect the wearer of the Raven Crown as well as the owner of this handcrafted gem. Along with the personalised gift for the Kings’ father, additional 300 bottles were packaged for the VVIPs.
The special piece carried a gold plated patina!
Bhutan…the last haven on earth sure knows how to live with the plethora of delightful whiskies, wine and beers…the happiness quotient and of course alcoholic redemptions in the form of a drafted alcohol policy for the entire country!
P.S: There are around 5000+ alcohol outlets in Bhutan i.e one outlet to 98 adult Bhutanese citizens!