Malaysia offers some of the world’s most stunning culinary experiences, but that’s not all. The country also has many locally produced alcoholic drinks that are top-notch and popular around the world. From scintillating red wines to homegrown whiskeys and gins, these different Malaysian wines and spirits have varied flavour profiles and tropical tastes that are sure to linger on your taste buds.
A good selection of Malaysian wines and whiskeys available locally are not only great pours by themselves but also make for the base of lip-smacking cocktails that bars are proud to serve. These bottles are also great for entertaining at home soirées, and make perfect gifts for friends who’re seasoned drinkers. If you’re hoping to make your upcoming Malaysia Day house party on September 16 an event to remember, read on for our guide to the top Malaysian wines and spirits to cop.
What’s even better is that you can easily get your hands on many of these made-in-Malaysia tipples online or via alcohol delivery services.
Here are some of the best Malaysian wines and spirits that you can try
An award-winning brand with strong Malaysian roots, Timah Whiskey is a double-peated dram with tropical notes. The first whiskey from the country to get global recognition, it originated from Ipoh and has bagged awards such as a silver medal at the 2020 World Spirits Competition and the Best Malaysian Whisky award at the International Whisky Competition 2021.
With a 40 percent ABV (alcohol content by volume) Timah Whiskey is made from peat, a natural plant-based fuel source, which is burned to provide the heat to dry malted barley. This imparts the characteristic smokey flavour and aroma. It is priced at RM 219 (S$65).
Find out more about the brand here.
Malaysia’s first independent bottler, Eiling Lim, started as a whiskey brand but soon forayed into the gin business where she carved a niche for herself. The eponymous label started operations in 2014 and leaves no stones unturned to deliver authentic Malaysian flavours in every drink. No wonder, it is considered among the most popular Malaysian spirits.
The brand is known for its handmade small-batch gin. Appealing to the local palate, the three drinks, named Gawky Galangal, Nasty Nangka and Pandan Predator — priced at RM 330 (S$98) — are made with Southeast Asian flavours but crafted in Belgium at the De Cort Distillery and sent back to Malaysia.
Fill your stock with whiskeys like the Glenlossie (51.1 percent ABV), vermouths like Wen and Shun, as well as rums and gins and be sure to taste the tropical fruit flavours and aromatic spicy notes.
Find out more about the brand here.
ReissJaden has a collection of great wines made from locally produced fruits like lemon, pineapple and the native Bentong old ginger root along with natively grown coffee seeds. What makes this brand stand out in the market is that none of its wines contains added flavours, colours or preservatives.
Their best-selling wine is the coffee liqueur — a premium Malaysian spirit made from high-grade fermented coffee beans that impart the classic rich flavour. With 40 percent ABV, it is priced at RM 83 (S$25). The other wines have 14.5 percent ABV and are tagged between RM 73 (S$22) and RM 63 (S$19).
It is Malaysia’s first locally produced wine brand.
This one might raise a lot of eyebrows regarding whether it is an actual whiskey, but a true blue Malaysian can never say no to a good durian. The drink is made from 100 percent premium quality Musang King, a variety of durian, and boasts a creamy texture alongside a host of antioxidants, vitamins, proteins and minerals. It isn’t too pungent, too.
Though there are mixed opinions about the fruit itself, the liqueur obtained can also be a good mix with other kinds of alcohol. Durian whiskey contains 18 percent ABV and brings the tropical fruit flavour to life in every sip.
For instance, take the ones made by Malaysian company Tropical Wine Sdn Bhd. Their Musang King durians are typically sourced from orchards of the ‘durian country’ Bentong and Raub in the state of Pahang. Their first and one of the best-selling products includes Dorian-Inside.
Another reputed brand is The Durian Whisky, which was established in 2016. Their liqueur is priced at USD 118 (approximately S157).
Tuak is a locally produced rice wine typically made with rice milk and sugar — the latter being a relatively new addition. A native product of Sarawak, it is one drink that is deeply entrenched in the country’s culinary and liquor traditions.
Marking any joyous occasion, tuak is a symbol of merrymaking for the indigenous people of Sarawak in Malaysia. Today, the drink is commercially available and is quite a crowd favourite.
Tuak Atelier was founded in 2018 and is based out of Miri in Sarawak. The fermentation process is done in-house with a fleet of skilled farmers. The wine is available in several delicious flavours like Unggu, Roselle Momo and Passion Keling, which makes excellent pairings with any light and appetising Malaysian dish. The ABV of tuak varies between 5 percent and 20 percent and is be priced at RM 48.90 (S$14).
This cool and refreshing cocktail can be spotted on several bar menus in Malaysia. The cocktail primarily uses rum, Campari, simple syrup and pineapple and lime juice. Though the original classic version uses dark rum, new-age recipes also use Jamaican and blackstrap rum. Together, the concoction is shaken with ice and then poured into a glass filled with ice.
Typically served in a Tiki mug or rocks glass, the drink is garnished with a pineapple wedge and a maraschino cherry. It is said to have originated at the Aviary Bar, Hilton Kuala Lumpur, but today, almost every bar serving it has its own variation.
Lihing is a type of Malaysian rice wine which is quite different from tuak and has its roots in the province of Sabah. Made of pulut (sticky rice), it is fermented with sasad (natural yeast) and rested for at least three months.
Lihing has a more translucent amber-like hue, which grows darker as it ages and has an almost 20 percent ABV. This Malaysian spirit is often used as a synonym for tapai (a starchy fermented root dish). Accurately speaking, it is a variation of tapai, which uses fermented cassava or other types of rice.
Lihing can be served at room temperature or chilled and is a staple for any occasion in Sabah. One bar which has a range of amazing lihing is Haus of Lihing. Their drinks contain no added sugar and retain the classic taste, while the variations come in flavours such as ginger, cinnamon, ginseng, komburongoh, tongkat ali and kacip fatimah. Lihing can be priced at around RM 13 (S$4) for 500ml.
Prefer a tall, ice-cold pint? We still have you covered.
If you adore beer, Modern Madness will surely impress your taste buds. The Malaysian brand makes beer infused with unique flavours like dim sum (yes, you read that right!), as well as assam boi, lemongrass, durian and chilli stout. While the four varieties have 4.5 percent ABV, the porter comes with a 6 percent ABV on tap.
Modern Madness beers are available in Klang Valley stores, including Ales & Lagers in Publika, and can cost from RM 43 (S$13) to RM 66 (S$20) for 1 litre.
Find out more about Modern Madness here.
(Main image credit: Louis Hansel/ @louishansel/ Unsplash; Featured image credit: Timah Whiskey)