What Is Soju, Korea’s National Liquor?

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Because the temperature rises, our collective palate begins to shift in direction of gentle and refreshing sorts of drinks. Enter: soju, the beloved nationwide liquor of alternative in Korea that must be in your radar.

For a very long time—at the least within the U.S.—soju was primarily related to Korean barbecue joints and Korean eating places basically. But it surely’s now popping up in liquor shops throughout the nation, with a number of manufacturers and flavors. This aromatic and crisp liquor is simple to drink, but will nonetheless certainly offer you a buzz. And now, like many facets of Korean tradition, it’s making its means throughout the Pacific Ocean in a giant means.

What Is Soju

Soju is a colorless grain-based distilled liquor with a median alcohol content material of about 15 p.c, apart from some high-proof sojus as much as 50 p.c. Historically made with rice, soju could be distilled from different sorts of grains, partly as a result of a ban that stopped utilizing rice in soju manufacturing throughout previous years of hardship in South Korea. As of late, soju is made largely utilizing rice with different grains blended in, similar to wheat and barley. Its flavors fluctuate relying on the model, however normal notes embody sweetness accented with plum, malt, and a lightweight trace of buttery richness, just like Japanese sake.

Learn how to Drink It

Like in lots of Asian consuming cultures, soju is usually consumed neat as a sipping beverage to accompany meals. As the typical soju is low-proof with an analogous alcohol content material to Japanese sake, soju could be as mellow as a glass of red wine, which is why it pairs so properly with meals. Within the conventional means, soju is offered by the bottle at eating places in Korea. However a U.S. regulation forbids such apply and requires eating places to promote soju by the glass. To discover a center floor, restaurant employees usually carry out the bottle and pour the primary spherical of soju for you.

There are a lot of soju manufacturers, a few of which can be found within the U.S. market. Jinro is essentially the most well-known model producing soju, with its quadruple-filtered Chamisul line being the preferred soju product in Korea. Different manufacturers, similar to Cheoeum-Cheoreom (the maker of Soonhari flavored soju) and Good Day, are additionally extensively distributed and cherished by many followers worldwide.

In distinction to soju’s lengthy historical past within the Korean peninsula, flavored variations are extra of a up to date iteration of the outdated spirit, and a few might even see them as an try and market the drink to youthful Koreans, who’re drawn to the decrease alcohol content material and fruity sweetness. In style flavors had been developed largely primarily based on fruits which might be common in Asia, with mango, lychee, and pear topping the recognition record. Because the flavors of plain soju are largely impartial with a refined trace of sweetness, the added fruit flavors are likely to take dominance, leading to a playful, fruit-forward, and easy drink which will get you drunk earlier than you recognize it.

Then there’s the yogurt-flavored soju, which has seen unmatched recognition in abroad markets outdoors South Korea, similar to Australia, ever since its debut. As in comparison with western yogurt, the “yogurt” replicated on this soju is a fermented, probiotic beverage that makes use of a distinct pressure of micro organism and is lighter in texture and sweeter. Yakult, a Japanese firm that’s credited with the unique formulation of this yogurt drink, is the preferred model. As many individuals throughout East and Southeast Asia began consuming this yogurt as children, its taste is synonymous with their childhood reminiscences.

To make it simple on the nostril and refreshing for the recent summer season, chilling soju previous to serving is an strategy common in Korean eating places. Due to its alcohol content material, you don’t have to fret concerning the beverage freezing simply, except you have got a very chilly freezer. After chilling, the sturdy alcohol taste turns into subdued and the refreshing fruity and candy notes take heart stage.

Along with consuming it straight, soju has a place in cocktails, too. One of the vital common soju cocktail varieties is the refreshingly scrumptious soju slushie, which blends soju with Yakult yogurt, lime juice, and ice, just like a smoothie.

For individuals who favor one thing fizzy and stronger, seven components beer and three components soju put collectively makes a brand new drink referred to as somaek, which merges two phrases—soju and maekju—collectively and is actually translated as “soju and beer.” No matter what route you’re taking, seize a bottle of soju subsequent time you go to a liquor retailer and ensure to take pleasure in it with household and buddies because it’s a social drink in Korea.


What’s your favourite solution to sip soju? Tell us within the feedback under!

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