Soju. We bet you’ve never heard of it. There’s no way you have. Unless you’ve been to the Dodger’s Stadium lately (we’ll explain later).
The mysterious liquor hails from South Korea and is highly coveted in its home country. So what is it? Soju is a clear spirit traditionally made from rice that has a slightly sweet and light taste. The most well known brand, Jinro, clocks in at 20% ABV, typical for your average soju. Not quite as much as a bottle of vodka but still a good offering for a rice liquor.
You might be wondering why we’re even bothering to tell you about soju. Despite it falling under the U.S. radar for so long, it has a dominant place in the international spirits world. In fact, Jinro Soju is the number one selling liquor brand in the entire world (according to Drinks International), beating out top dogs like Bacardi and Smirnoff. With a reputation like that, it’s only natural it makes its way over to the states.
As the top seller, Jinro will be the first soju brand to appear in the U.S. Making bold moves already, Jinro has paired up with the Los Angeles Dodgers who have started selling soju at games and the brand hopes to expand to stores and bars/restaurants throughout the country in the near future. That is, if we accept soju with open arms.
That might be difficult because soju has a reputation that precedes itself. Despite being the most popular unknown spirit in the world and loved by Koreans, to say we’ve only heard bad things from those who have tried it would be an understatement. Soju has been compared to cleaning solution, lighter fluid and bad wine. Makes us want to run out for a bottle right now… not.
Although there are a lot of haters out there, some people see major potential in soju. Though the Koreans drink it neat, some people are predicting it will find its place in the cocktail world once it comes to the U.S. At only 20% ABV, soju would be perfect in a lower proof cocktail, something that has recently become popular in bars and on cocktail menus.
We’re torn. On the one hand, we hear soju tastes horrible. But it’s the number one selling liquor in the world, how could we not try it? Will you give this Korean rice liquor a try?