Tak Chuen Distillery (德泉酒庄) and “Double Happiness” Wines

York Lo: Tak Chuen Distillery (德泉酒庄) and “Double Happiness” Wines 

Tak Chuen Distillery Image 1 York LoLeft: Ko Ho-ning; Center: Close-up of Tak Chuen’s display at the 1954 (KSEN, 1954-1-13); Right: Yau Chi-ho, manager of Tak Chuen (HK Pun U District Association) 

While the family of Ko Ho-ning (高可, 1878-1955) might be best known for their pawn shops, many properties, movie star daughters in law (Grace Chang and Lucilla You) and their joint control of the Macau gambling concession from 1937 to 1961 with the Fu family, in the 1950s they were also in the wine business in Hong Kong through Tak Chuen Distillery, which produced and distributed a variety of Chinese wines. The distillery operated out of 5 Pennington Street in Causeway Bay in a structure it shared with the family’s Tak Hing Pawnshop (德興大) at 3 Pennington Street which is still in business today after almost seven decades of operations. 

Tak Chuen Distillery Image 2 York Lo

Article about the opening of Tak Chuen in 1951 (KSEN, 1951-9-5) 

Tak Chuen was opened in August 1951 as one of the many businesses started by Ko Ho-ning in Hong Kong. While the highest profile businesses operated by the family in HK at the time were the Ying King Restaurant (英京大酒家,founded in the 1930s) and the adjourning Oriental Theatre (東方戲院,founded in 1932) in Wanchai (both were demolished in 1981 and jointly re-developed by the family into Tai Yau Building in 1985), the core businesses for the Ko family has been properties and pawn shops, many of which like Tak Chuen also has the character “Tak” in its name such as Casa de Penhores Tak Seng On (德成, operated from 1917 to 1993, now a museum) and Tak Sang On (德生) in Macau, Tak Shing House in Central, Tak Wing Pawn Shop (德榮大, established in 1940) on Des Voeux Road Central, Tak Sang Pawn Shop (德生, established in 1940) at 178 Shanghai Street in Yau Ma Tei, Tak Tai Pawn Shop (德泰押) at Queen’s Road West, Tung Tak Pawn Shop (同德大, taken over by the Ko family in 1947, demolished in 2015) in Wanchai and Tak Chuen’s neighbor Tak Hing Pawn Shop (launched in the same year as Tak Chuen). The registered trademark for Tak Chuen’s wines is “Double Happiness”, which is identical to the “Double Happiness” logo that is used in all of the Ko family’s pawnshops. Aside from the pawn shops mentioned above, the Ko family’s Foo Shing Loan & Mortgage Co Ltd (富成按揭, incorporated in 1953) also operates several other pawn shops in HK and Kowloon including Nam Cheong (南昌押) in Sham Shui Po, Shing Fung (成豐押) in North Point, Shing Loong (成隆押) on Hennessy Road and Tung Cheong (同昌押) on Argyle Street in Kowloon. 

Tak Chuen Distillery Image 3 York Lo

Left: Ad in the 1950s for Tak Chuen featuring its Double Happiness logo, its prize-winning display at the HK Products Expo and Industry & Commerce trophy won by the firm (HK Pun U District Association, 1955); Right: Tak Chuen’s premise at 5 Pennington Street in Causeway Bay where the Ko family’s Tak Hing Pawn Shop continues to operate. 

According to the 1951 article above, Tak Chuen had several dozen large centuries-old jars to store wine, including one called the “Eternal Spring Jar” which was allegedly given to the Tang dynasty poet Li Po. The types of wines that were produced by Tak Chuen included double fermented wine, wine made out of chrysanthemum, dates and sticky rice and wine featured names such as “Healthy Hero” and “Hundred Years Old and Eternally Youthful”. It is possible that some of the wines were sold to the Ko family’s Ying King restaurant. 

The manager of Tak Chuen was Yau Chi-ho (), a fellow Panyu native of the Ko family and it is unclear if he was related to Yau Lai (), the manager of the Ko family’s Tak Wing Pawn Shop in Central. At the 1953-54 HK Products Expo, Tak Chuen’s booth in the form of a traditional Chinese gateway (paifang) won the top display award.  

As a firm, Tak Chuen never appeared to have incorporated and had since faded into history. As for Yau Chi-ho, he was involved in establishing the Kam Ho restaurant at 484-496 Queen’s Road West in Shek Tong Tsui in 1965 (KSEN, 1965-6-1) and was elected vice chairman of the HK Restaurant Industry Association in 1976 under Ngan Tung-chun of Lin Heung restaurant as chairman. (TKP, 1976-9-19) 

This article was first posted on 26th June 2020.

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