Bangkok bar owner fined THB 10,000 for making Japanese plum wine

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A Bangkok bar owner was making Japanese plum wine on Friday night when two officers walked in and charged him with two crimes: altering the liquor and its packaging.

Pasakorn “Thep” Sangraksakiat said yesterday that he was fined THB10,000 ($300) for making umeshu, aka Japanese plum wine, at his PrumPlum bar in Bangkok’s Sathorn district.

“My store was closed that day, and I and some staff members were making umeshu with lots of plums before they were wasted,” Pasakorn said in an online chat with a community of growers. of Thai liquor called Surathai.

“Then the excise authorities came and asked for our liquor license, which was no problem. But then they saw the umeshu jars and asked me, ‘What is it? Even though I told them that I didn’t sell it at the bar, the authorities told me that I had made too many pots and accused me.

Pasakorn was charged with making alterations to liquor containers under Sections 157 and 158 of the Excise Tax Act 2017. He was assessed THB5,000 for each item – and a total fine of THB 10,000. The plum wine jars – with a capacity of 10 liters – were seized by the authorities.

Pasakorn ‘Thep’ Sangraksakiat speaks about the incident with a community of Thai liquor producers, Surathai, right. Images: Surathai

Pasakorn defended himself, saying umeshu should be prepared ahead of time and in bulk, as plums are seasonal and need to age for months. “If you want to drink it all year round, you have to do it in bulk,” he said.

The Pasakorn team have been outspoken critics of restrictive liquor laws, frequently posting on social media about their abuses and attempts at reform.

His bar’s case has sparked considerable interest as making umeshu at home has grown in popularity over the past few years, especially when people were stuck at home during the pandemic.

In Thailand, the production of alcohol for commercial purposes requires manufacturers to have the capacity to produce at least 100,000 liters per year, which results in many small entrepreneurs facing fines instead of profits.

Pots of umeshu seized by the taxman

Taopiphop Limjittrakorn, a beer activist turned MP who campaigned for reform of the laws, questioned their reasonableness.

“Do you think this law is strange? Currently, many people are fined for making alcohol,” Taopiphop said.

“They don’t want to go underground, but the authorities push them back underground.”

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