Moang “Champich” Darachampich, production manager and master distiller of Samai rum (Phnom Penh)

How did you become a distiller?
I have a BS in food science and chemical engineering and an MS in agro-industry and environmental engineering. I was the first person to join Samai’s project when it started back in 2014, but when I was studying, I never thought about becoming a distiller. When I heard about the job position at Samai, I was curious and went to the interview to learn more. I got super excited about it and took the opportunity to try this new career and do something completely new for my country, as Samai was the first distillery in Cambodia at the time. My objective was to make the brand famous in Cambodia and all around the world, so I started to learn about rum and how to drink it, and I have loved it ever since.

Why do you think there aren’t many female distillers?
Traditionally in Asia, working in the alcohol industry, and even drinking alcohol, is mostly done by men. People say that women can’t drink and can’t work as well as a men can in this industry, but they’re wrong! I’ve been doing it for five years now, and Samai has won multiple awards from international competitions around the world. Also in Cambodia, the fact that we didn’t have a distillery meant it was something completely new here.

What advice do you have for women wanting to become distillers or create their own spirits?
Believe in yourself, your abilities, your passion and your career. Even if you feel like you don’t know everything, that’s normal and okay. You will always keep learning and growing and will gain experience and confidence. The only thing is to try: if you don’t try, you will never know and never fully enjoy your work.

What does the future hold for you?
Samai is still just at the beginning and we are looking to increase our production capacity and continue to export to other countries in the coming years. I’m also working on new products, and like to experiment with new flavours – always with Cambodian ingredients. Right now, I’m working on a Samai spiced rum.