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Distillery Visit – Về Để Đi Distillery

2024.02.18 / 最終更新日:2024.02.18

Just an hour’s drive away from the bustling heart of Hanoi, Vietnam, a peaceful escape unfolds where nature and human artistry meld together in perfect harmony. Về Để Đi Distillery, nestled amidst an industrial backdrop, invites you into a world filled with the warm aroma of corn and barley. Our gracious host for this visit was Mr. Quân Nguyễn, a co-founder of Về Để Đi Distillery and a proud Hanoian. Along with his team of Vietnamese workers, Quân welcomed us into the first whisky distillery in Southeast Asia!

Check out other articles on Về Để Đi Distillery!

About Về Để Đi Distillery

Về Để Đi Distillery, established in 2020, stands proudly as Vietnam’s and Southeast Asia’s first full-scale whisky distillery crafting single malt and grain whiskies in traditional copper pot stills. They specialize in producing diverse versions of spirits, including corn and malt whisky, gin, and liqueur, all crafted from scratch with the utmost dedication and expertise.
Their impressive lineup includes drinks like “Crème de Cacao” and “good gin,” carefully made with the finest ingredients from Vietnam. These spirits receiving high praises raise the world’s expectation for their upcoming single malt and grain whiskies.

Distillery Về Để Đi Distillery
Owner Về Để Đi Spirits
Location Số 14, ngách 6/6 phố Đội Nhân – Phường Vĩnh Phúc – Quận Ba Đình – Hà Nội.
Year of Establishment 2020
Website https://www.ve-de-di.com/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/vededi.spirits/
Mr. Quân Nguyễn, a co-founder of Về Để Đi Distillery

Mr. Quân Nguyễn, a co-founder of Về Để Đi Distillery

Inside Về Để Đi Distillery

Building

The distillery’s architecture, a departure from the traditional Scottish distilleries, exudes a distinctively Vietnamese warehouse and factory atmosphere with its tropical trees and leaves. The building was rejuvenated from a former “Sơn Tinh Distillery” established in 1997 as Hanoi’s oldest independent commercial liquor distillery, and the many of their equipments are now used to make whisky and other remarkable spirits produced by Về Để Đi Spirits.

Về Để Đi Distillery

Về Để Đi Distillery

Ingredients

At the entrance to the building is corn that has been dried and milled by a corn press. “What we differ from most distilleries is that we mill the grains a lot finer, almost like flour. This allows us to extract sugars more efficiency“, says Quân.

Dried and milled corn

Dried and milled corn

Vietnam boasts a variety of corn types, and the selection process is meticulous. They contact different villages, compare samples, and select high-quality native species. To ensure a stable supply averaging around 20 tons per month, they build a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with these farmers, providing knowledge and technologies to them. Currently, the Distillery uses a Golden Corn familiar to H’moob people in the north of Vietnam, as well as other indigenous corns.

Corn juice, the base of về để đi's corn whisky

Corn juice, the base of Về Để Đi ‘scorn whisky

During our visit, we had the privilege of tasting their “corn juice” – the sweet, starchy, and delightful corn wort before fermentation and distillation. Rich in umami flavors and incredibly refreshing, it’s a cherished drink among Quân and his team, a privilege reserved for corn-whisky makers.

not yet Whisky

not yet Whisky

Về Để Đi Distillery’s specialty extends beyond corn whiskies. Responding to the growing demand for single malt whiskies within Vietnam, they also produce barley whiskies. While they import barley from Australia (Vietnam is not suited to producing barleys), the malting process is conducted in Vietnam, leveraging the country’s strong craft beer culture to support their first whisky distillery.

Mash Filter

What makes it possible to handle these numerous grains is their mash filter press. It can handle any kind of grain with high efficiency, extracting the sweetness of the grains properly.

Another vital aspect of their operation is water management. The Distillery manager oversees the de-mineralization process for the brewing water, ensuring its suitability for whisky production in Vietnam’s tropical climate, which warms up the water too hot for fermentation.

Inside the Distillery

Inside the Distillery

Fermentation

Fermentation at Về Để Đi Distillery spans five days, longer than typical for whisky production. This extended period contributes to the fruity and complex flavors, as well as the sweetness of their spirits. The fermentation tanks are made of stainless steel, considering the hot and humid cliemate of Vietnam.

The fermentation process begins with a base of English ale yeast, and whisky yeast is used to remove unfermented sugars. Finally wild yeast is collected from the distillery’s surroundings. The yeast strains are obtained from plants in the distillery’s garden to make a whisky that cannot be made by anyone except Về Để Đi Distillery.

Employing homemade yeast, they convert sugars into alcohol, a crucial role in the whisky-making process. Their previous head distiller, Javin Chia, had expertise in fermentation in hot environments, acquired during his years of brewing experience in Singapore and studied at Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University, which made him the ideal candidate to have led the Về Để Đi whisky project.

Garden next to về để đi dstillery

Garden at the Về Để Đi Distillery

Distillation

Distillation is processed by these copper stills from DAEYOO TECH CO,. LTD. WENZHOU. These pot stills also play a significant role in crafting their signature rice gin, “good gin.” Every step of whisky production at Về Để Đi Distillery is carried out by hand, and cut point are determined by tasting and smelling by the team.

Pot Stills

Pot Stills

Maturation

Về Để Đi Distillery has two aging rooms within the distillery. They rely on Hanoi’s natural climate without the use of air conditioning. “Hanoi has significant fluctuations of temperatures, which allows us to mature faster and better.” – says Quân. Whisky-making in tropical climates is a growing area of interest, represented by Kavalan in Taiwan. We asked Javin about the secrets.

Whisky maturation involves three main aspects: addition, subtraction, and transformation. Addition occurs as the spirit absorbs color and flavor from the oak barrel, a well-known maturation process. Subtraction involves the removal of certain compounds through the char and carbon inside the barrels, smoothing the whisky. Transformation results from chemical interactions between compounds in the whisky and the wood, creating new complex and desirable flavors and aromas. All of these reactions are accelerated by heat, making hot climates advantageous for whisky maturation. The hotter it is, the faster these reactions happen.

maturation room

maturation room

We also enjoyed tasting their “corn whisky,” a single cask delight. As Quân aptly puts it, “Corn whiskies are meant to be good enough to drink itself.” This unblended single cask offering showcased the pure, delicious essence of corn with hints of butterscotch and popcorn, along with the mellow, pleasant aroma of Armagnac cask aging.

At Về Để Đi Distillery, they continually experiment with various barrel types, including bourbon, sherry, rum, and Armagnac barrels, embodying their commitment to innovation and exploration. Notably, they successfully secured custom-seasoned sherry barrels, a practice usually reserved for major distilleries with their own bodegas. Through partnerships with cooperages, they’ve acquired traceable and transparent custom-seasoned barrels.

Turning barley to liquid

Turning barley to liquid

Visitor Centre: Experience the Traditional Rural Life in Vietnam

Next to the distillery, there was an under-construction visitor centre, designed to showcase different facets of Vietnam for those who visit. This center will transport visitors to a different world with its traditional Vietnamese house and beautiful garden, a stark contrast to the industrial setting of the distillery.

Visiotr Centre

Turning barley to liquid

Tasting of “good gin” and “Crème de Cacao”

In addition to their new make whisky, we also had the opportunity to taste their signature bottles: gin and Crème de Cacao.”

good gin

good gin

good gin

Made from Vietnamese rice, literally ‘good gin.’ Truly delicious on its own; fragrant with a subtle sweetness, rich umami, and a clean pallet. Surprisingly approachable and well-balanced. Absolutory delightful.

Crème de Cacao

crème de cacao

Crème de Cacao

Born from a collaboration with the well-known Vietnamese chocolate brand Marou, using Vietnamese cacao. This chocolate liqueur brings a direct experience of natural cacao flavors. It’s delicious whether enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in cocktails. Particularly noteworthy is the combination with bourbon tasted at a Vietnam bar.

These bottles are available at Vietnam’s bars and online shops. Utilizing ingredients from Vietnam’s tropical climate and abundant agricultural resources, these delights !

At Last

This is the end of the distillery visit report at the Về Để Đi Distillery. Situated in Hanoi, Về Để Đi Distillery thoroughly explores the potential of Vietnam and engages in whisky-making that brings joy to people.  Along our journey, we found the bottles of Về Để Đi’s gin and Crème de Cacao at many vibrant Vietnamese bars. How will the future unfold for made-in-Vietnam whisky? We’ll have to hold a bit more patience before we find out!

Micky

Got to meet Micky, the distillery dog, who showed us around the facility together.

Check out other articles on Về Để Đi Distillery!

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