Soju, The Most Popular Spirit You've Never Heard Of.
What is Soju, and where can I get it in the USA?
Soju, vodka’s milder Asian cousin, is the MOST popular spirit in the world based on consumption, with sales being 2x more than any other spirit you can think of. So why haven’t you had it?
Historically, Soju has not had much success or widespread popularity in the US due to difficulties with importing alcohol and Soju’s evasion of classic categories, however this has been changing with innovative new alcohol distribution platforms, such as Tipxy.com, which provide an easy way to try all types of interesting, exotic, and foreign alcoholic drinks, and I mean all types.
So what is Soju made of, and how can you get Soju in the US?
Soju is a Korean spirit popular since the 1300s when it was made from boiled sweet potatoes. In more recent times, Soju has traditionally been made with rice, and eaten with a meal, often a Korean barbeque meal. When rice distilling was forbidden during the Korean War, the thirsty Koreans adapted and continued creating their traditional Korean Soju using substitute starches, such as the age old sweet potatoes, tapioca, wheat, or barley, and Korean barbeques were saved from sobriety.
The ban was lifted about 30 years ago, but many Soju manufacturers have stayed stuck on the starches. Whether rice, sweet potatoes, or grains, and often a combination, the starches are brewed into a molasses type substance, which is then fermented, distilled, and bottled.
The simple four letter name, Soju, contains many different varieties and types, with the main categories being distilled, diluted, and cocktail, or flavored, Soju.
Distilled Soju is the classic traditional rice version of the Korean Soju, a higher quality straight distilled spirit with an ABV of 25% or higher. Distilled Soju, while traditional, is certainly not boring. There are many brands and varieties with distinctions to try, such as Hemosu Soju Fields of Barley, described on Tipxy.com as creating “a gentle sweetness and deep flavor,” but “mellowed with hardwood charcoal” and finishing “with a smooth mouth feel”.
Hemosu offers their 40% ABV Soju Pine Forest as well, which they claim is a 16 generation old recipe from the Hadon Jeong family made from pines and rice with a slight aftertaste of honey. Distilled Soju is definitely worth a try, but the market has been shifting towards the lighter versions of Soju, such as Diluted Soju.
Diluted Soju is similar to traditional distilled Soju, but geared towards a younger crowd and less alcohol heavy, because, of course, it's diluted by water. Diluted Soju has gained popularity, as it allows health conscious people to feel better about themselves, and people can drink it Korean style, with a meal, while still being able to remember it the next day. The ABV of diluted Soju ranges from 12% to 20%.
Soju to try from this category includes the Hwaggeum Golden Barley Soju 17, which uses 100% sustainably grown barley and is described as "light and refreshing with crisp plum and a snappy gingerbread finish," making it great for the upcoming holidays.
If you’re interested in American Soju, 20% ABV West 32- Soju Original for $20 is the one to try. Presented as West 32’s “take on the traditional Korean spirit that is true to heritage, but with a modern American craft influence,” it provides the right cultural mix with the right level of alcohol.
One separate branch of lighter Soju that has been gaining in popularity is fruity flavored Soju, also known as Cocktail Soju.
Cocktail Soju manages to satisfy the market’s need for flavored drinks, while still holding onto Soju’s original taste. Flavors are incorporated during distilling so that mixing in juices later doesn’t destroy the authentic Soju taste. Widespread Korean brand Jinro offers some of the best flavors in green bottles reminiscent of beer, including Mandarin orange, strawberry, grapefruit, peach, and apple, and these lighter Soju bottles only have an ABV of about 13%.
So Why Buy Soju Online?
While Soju can sometimes be found in your local liquor store or Korean restaurant, the safest bet in the US is to buy your soju online. Platforms such as Tipxy.com, carrying the largest selection of premium Soju in America, allows for easy browsing of all types of Soju, giving people across the USA the ability to order soju online with no hassle, no stress, and no getting dressed. With the added bonus of prices ranging from only $10 to $45, you can try them all and decide for yourself.
Don't forget to check out all the soju TIPXY has to offer!