North Korea Launches its Very Own ‘Samilpo’ Whiskey

In some of the less concerning news to come out of North Korea in the last, well, ever, the East Asian country is branching out into the burgeoning whiskey market, with the launch of its own brand of the naughty water announced this week by youth travel site Young Pioneer Tours.

The whiskey, which is named ‘Samilpo’ (and incidentally follows the US style guide in that they’re spelling it with an ‘e’, as opposed to the sans-‘e’ Scottish spelling which is generally used for international offerings), is, like most things from NoKo, shrouded in mystery.

The distiller has apparently deliberately tried to emulate the design of a Johnnie Walker bottle, given its reputation in the country as a quality whisky. Samilpo will be offered as an entry-level expression ‘Black Label’, bottled at 4o per cent ABV, with a ‘Red Label’ offered at 42 per cent.

A 45 per cent ABV offering is also allegedly in the works, but, as stated, nobody knows much else about this mystery-dram at this stage, with news out of North Korea very heavily-regulated and also of questionable repute. Only low-res photos of the packaging have been released.

In 2016, media from North Korea announced that the country had developed a hangover-free alcohol, a claim so spurious in nature than many were right to be sceptical, with little to no hard evidence being actually offered for this mystery liquor.

In true North Korean style, Samilpo distillery’s director has stated that the whiskey contains “15 types of amino acids, including eight types of essential amino acids”, which “will reduce harm to your liver and will also reduce the negative side effects of alcohol abuse.”


North Koreans enjoy a rich culture of drinking high-quality beverages, with Soju, Tedonggang Beer and fermented-rice beverage Makgeolli all delicious options, or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can enjoy a seal-penis liquor. Yummy.

The whiskey will hit shelves in Pyongyang in the coming weeks, with a price tag equivalent to USD$15, putting it in the premium category for the financially beleaguered nation.