Since moving to Korea, some things have changed. US Hamburger (or any good beef for that matter) is almost impossible to come by (unless you are lucky and know someone who lives on the Army Base) You can’t buy deodorant at any local store. I have yet to find cream of chicken soup (only cream of mushroom) and our choices for a nice alcoholic beverage is also limited. No Crown Royal! Coscto-brand Bourbon only, and limited gins and vodka.
Why? You ask?
Because Koreans want you to drink what they make here. Pretty smart, huh? Oh, you can buy a bottle of gin at Costco or Emart, but you will pay much more than you do in the US. (because of Import Taxes)
So fairly early on, we were introduced to Soju. Koreans equivalent to “clear” drinking alcohol.
You ask how it’s made? Just so happens, I joined a tour a few weeks back that I thought was going to only be Museums, but one of our stops was to a cute little “Soju-making place” tucked way back in an alley in Bukchon. Let me share how the product is made.
This shop was small, but the owner was very proud of his product. He spoke some English, so he stood outside with us on his deck, and explained the process to us. Thankfully, there were some papers on the deck that told us the process. I thought his deck was decorated quite uniquely.
The face-looking sculpture was actually a chair.
Here are the steps to making Soju:
I know it’s a simple explanation, but other than copying something from an Encyclopedia, I think this works. It as interesting to see some of the devices they used to make the product.
It was only about 10:00 in the morning, but they were very excited that some of us wanted to taste the end product.
We did not have to pay for the tasting. They just gave us a little cup to sip some.
The above picture shows the 3 stages of making Soju. The first stage, Makkoli, tastes a little bit like a fermented beer. The Yakju is a little more refined, and Soju (the highest in alcohol content) is very clear and smooth.
And of course, they wanted us to BUY!!! (I kept my wallet in my pocket)
If we find that company would like to take a bottle back to the States for fun, or if someone really does enjoy Soju, we would be more than happy to take them back to this place and have some samples, but as for now, we will stick with the regular soju that is manufactured here in Korea at big Brewery’s. They are only 1,000W/bottle.
My favorite part of the trip though was NOT the Soju tasting, but this beautiful piece of driftwood. I would have pulled my wallet out of my pocket for this little beauty, but it was NOT for Sale!