North Korea set to launch its own whisky – but does it taste any good?


A North Korean distillery has created its own brand of whisky and aims to launch it by the end of the year, according to a foreign tour group that recently enjoyed its first dram. 

The Samilpo whisky bottle is based on the characteristic square design of Scotland’s Johnnie Walker, a popular brand in North Korea, said Young Pioneer Tours, a company based in China which organises visits to the reclusive regime and other places “your mother would rather you stayed away from.”

The distillery, which opened its doors to the YPT, plans to sell three different types of its whisky in a similar format to the international best-selling Scottish brand – a 40% “black label”, 42% “red label” and a 45% strength, which is not yet available. 

One taster described the liquor as a “very interesting start” but added: “It definitely needs to be aged a little longer.”

The name “Samilpo” evokes one of North Korea’s most glorious beauty spots, the Samilpo Lake, near Mount Kumgang in the country’s southeast. 

South Korean media reported that the mysterious spirit may become North Korea’s first venture into a whisky market that has been long-dominated by Scotland, Ireland, the US and Japan. 

Its unique selling point could be the unusual claim that its 15 types of amino acids, including eight essential amino acids, provide a health benefit that reduce harm to your liver and counter the negative side effects of alcohol abuse. 


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