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Lao-Khamu men drinking lao-hai from an earthenware jar. Water is added to the jar to maintain the liquid level as the alcohol is sipped.

Lao-Lao (Lao: ເຫລົ້າລາວ) is a Laotian rice whisky produced in Laos.[1][2] Along with Beerlao, lao-Lao is a staple drink in Laos.


The name lao-Lao is not the same word repeated twice, but two different words pronounced with different tones: the first, ເຫລົ້າ, means "alcohol" and is pronounced with a low-falling tone in the standard dialect, while the second, ລາວ, means Laotian ("Lao") and is pronounced with a high(-rising) tone.[3]


Quality, taste and alcohol concentration vary by source of the drink. However, all variations are strong. Lao satoe, the white liquid by-product from lao-Lao production, is also drunk and it has a very yeasty and sweet taste.[3][4]

Production and consumption[edit]

lao-Lao with scorpions

Although lao-Lao is traditionally drunk neat, a cocktail that is rising in popularity is the "Pygmy Slow Lorange", named after the pygmy slow loris, a species endemic to Laos. Various flavoured lao-Laos are made by macerating such additives as honey or scorpions. It is women who often distill lao-Lao and sell it as a source of income locally, often being their second major income.[1][5] Lao-Lao sold on retail is usually clear, but amber colored varieties exist too.[2]

It is traditional to serve two glasses of lao-Lao on ceremonies, feasts and other comparable situations. The drink is customarily expected to be drunk with a single gulp.[3][4]

A less powerful version of lao-Lao, called lao-hai, is especially popular with the Khamu ethnic group in Laos[citation needed], and is drunk from large communal earthenware pots (hai) through long bamboo straws.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sally Everett (12 April 2016). Food and Drink Tourism: Principles and Practice. SAGE Publications. p. 301. ISBN 978-1-4739-6597-3.
  2. ^ a b "The cheapest alcohol in the world: Lao-Lao, Laos rice whiskey". Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Dorothy Culloty (2010). Food from Northern Laos: The Boat Landing Cookbook. Galangal Press. pp. 178–179. ISBN 978-0-473-17236-7.
  4. ^ a b c The Rough Guide to Laos. Rough Guides Limited. 19 September 2013. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-4093-5038-5.
  5. ^ "Gender and Aquaculture in Lao PDR". Archived from the original on 2019-01-09. Retrieved 2011-04-09.

External links[edit]