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The Kinds of Korean Liquor to Drink

The different liquor choices that Korea has to offer

Korean alcohol has gained immense popularity worldwide due to its distinct taste and aroma.

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korean liquor

From the most popular soju to the lesser-known Gukhwaju and Sansachun, traditional Korean liquors have a wide range of alcoholic drinks that offer unique flavor profiles.

This article will take you through the nine most popular Korean alcohol.


Korean Liquor

Let’s take a closer look at 9 of the most popular Korean traditional liquors that you have to try.

korean liquors

We will delve deeper into each of these Korean drinks, providing you with an overview of their taste, ingredients, and production methods.


Soju

Soju is the most popular Korean alcohol, a clear distilled beverage made from rice, wheat, or grain.

soju being poured out of a bottle into a shot glass above a dinner table

Initially, soju was made from grains like barley and had a high alcohol content. However, during the 20th century, rice became the primary ingredient for making soju, resulting in a milder taste and a lower alcohol content.

Today, soju is widely available in Korea and other countries, symbolizing Korean culture. Soju is typically served in small glasses, and it’s often enjoyed with Korean barbeque or spicy foods. Soju has a smooth, slightly sugary taste and is an excellent choice for those who want milder liquor.


Makgeolli or Korean Rice Wine

Makgeolli, also known as Korean rice wine, is a traditional Korean alcohol that’s been around for centuries.

Makgeolli

Makgeolli is made from rice, wheat, or barley and has a milky-white appearance due to its unfiltered nature. It’s often called farmer’s liquor because farmers traditionally enjoyed it after a long day’s work.

Makgeolli is a staple in Korean culture and is often served in traditional bowls with a side of Korean pancakes or spicy fried chicken. Makgeolli’s unique taste and texture make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike, and it’s an excellent choice for those who prefer a milder and sweeter alcoholic drink.


Maeshilju

Maeshilju is a popular Korean alcohol made from green plums and sugar, fermented for several months.

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Maeshilju

The plums used to make maeshilju are harvested when they are still young, and they are left to soak in sugar and water for several days to create a sweet syrup. The syrup is then mixed with rice wine and fermented for several months.

Maeshilju has a slightly sweeter taste than other traditional Korean liquors and a fruity aroma. It’s traditionally served as a digestive drink, and it’s believed to aid digestion after a heavy meal. Maeshilju can also be enjoyed as an aperitif or with fruits and nuts.


Gukhwaju or Flower Wine

Gukhwaju, or flower wine, is a traditional Korean alcohol made from peach blossoms or other edible flowers, honey, and rice wine.

Gukhwaju

The flowers used to make gukhwaju are harvested when they are still fresh and fragrant, and they are left to soak in honey and water for several days. The mixture is then combined with rice wine and fermented for several weeks.

Gukhwaju has a unique floral aroma and a slightly sweet taste. It’s often served at weddings and other traditional celebrations, and it’s an excellent choice for those who enjoy a mild and fruity alcoholic drink.


Bokbunja

Bokbunja is a popular Korean fruit wine made from black raspberries and sugar, fermented for several months.

Bokbunja

Bokbunja has a sweet and tart taste, and it’s often enjoyed as a dessert wine or with spicy foods. Bokbunja is also believed to have several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties and improved blood circulation.

Bokbunja is a popular drink in Korea, and it’s often served in small glasses with a side of fruits and nuts. Its unique taste and flavor make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike, and it’s an excellent choice for those who prefer fruit wine with a sweeter and fruity liquor.


Dongdongju

Dongdongju is a traditional Korean rice wine that originated in the southern part of Korea.

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Dongdongju

It has a milky-white appearance and a low alcohol content, around 6-8%. Dongdongju is unfiltered, which gives it a slightly sour taste and a unique texture.

Dongdongju is often paired with Korean barbeque or spicy foods, typically served in traditional Korean bowls. Dongdongju is an excellent choice for those who prefer milder and less sweet liquor.


Baekseju

Baekseju is a traditional Korean alcohol made from several herbs, including ginger, ginseng, and Makgeolli.

It has a slightly sugary taste and a herbal aroma. Baekseju is often served as an aperitif, and it’s believed to have several health benefits, including improved digestion and reduced stress.

Baekseju is a popular drink in Korea, and it’s often served in small glasses with a side of fruits and nuts. Its unique taste and flavor make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike, and it’s an excellent choice for those who enjoy mild and herbal liquor with a ginger taste.


Sansachun

Sansachun is a traditional Korean alcohol made from several herbs and Makgeolli.

It has a sweet and sour taste and a herbal aroma. Sansachun is often traditionally served as a digestive drink, and it’s believed to have several health benefits, including improved digestion and reduced inflammation.

Sansachun is a popular drink in Korea, and it’s often served in small glasses with a side of fruits and nuts. Its unique taste and flavor make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike, and it’s an excellent choice for those who prefer a sweeter and sour liquor.


Cheongju

Cheongju is a clear, distilled liquor made from rice or grain.

Cheongju

It has a high alcohol content, around 30-35%, and a neutral taste. Cheongju is often used in cooking and as a base for cocktails.

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Cheongju is also a popular drink in Korea, and it’s often served in small glasses as an aperitif.

Cheongju is an excellent choice for those who prefer a strong and neutral liquor. Its high alcohol content makes it a favorite among those who enjoy cocktails and mixed drinks.


Frequently Asked Questions

Now that we have covered some of the most popular Korean traditional liquors let’s answer a few frequently asked questions about these traditional drinks.

Is soju a gin or vodka?

Soju is a Korean distilled beverage that is unique and not a gin or a vodka. Made from rice, wheat, or grain, it has a slightly sweet taste and aroma, which sets it apart from other spirits. Soju is often smoother and more mellow than gin or vodka. It is an essential part of Korean drinking culture, often served with meals or consumed socially.

What is the most popular Korean liquor?

The most popular Korean alcohol is soju, a clear, colorless liquor made from rice or wheat. It tastes slightly sugary and is often served in small shot glasses. Soju is widely consumed in Korea and has become increasingly popular worldwide in recent years.


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Korean alcohol is a significant aspect of Korean culture and an excellent choice for anyone looking for unique liquors with distinct flavors.

The nine most popular drinks in Korea offer a glimpse into Korean drinking culture. We hope this article has inspired you to explore and try these traditional Korean liquors for yourself.

Have you ever tried any of these traditional Korean liquors? If so, we would love to hear about your experience and which one is your favorite. If you have yet to try them, which one are you most excited to taste? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and opinions with us.

Please drink responsibly, be fully accountable with your alcohol consumption, and show others respect.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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