If you’ve never tried soju, you are desperately missing out on the drinking experience of a lifetime. This, smooth like butter, drink is the perfect alcohol for a night in or a night out. You don’t even have to be a fan of BTS to enjoy it!
Soju, a clear Korean alcohol, is one of the most popular alcohols in the world. In 2020 alone, the company Hite-Jinro sold 95.3 million cases of soju making it the top-selling spirit brand in the world, overtaking both Smirnoff and White Claw for the top spot.
This South Korean delight, often made from rice, typically has an alcohol content between 13-25% (ABV) and is a staple of Korean culture.
Non-flavored soju has a relatively neutral taste and a smooth texture like many other clear alcohols made distilled from starches. It is known to be a bit sweeter and smoother than vodka due to its lower alcohol content, but its sweetness is relatively subtle. Soju’s sweetness tends to have a buttery or milky nature, coming from the sweetness of the rice it’s distilled from.
Popular Jinro Soju
Jinro produces soju in a variety of different flavors. These flavors include strawberry, grapefruit, green grape, and plum, in addition to the original Chamisul and Chamisul Fresh.
The tasting notes of each of Jinro’s soju are listed below.
The original Jinro soju is reflective of the non-flavored soju taste, with a subtle sweetness in addition to the neutral alcoholic flavor. ABV: 20.1%
This soju is known to have a slightly cleaner finish with a lower alcohol content of the original. ABV: 16.9%
The sweetness of strawberry soju is emphasized by a strong berry-like fruit flavor. The strawberry soju embodies the advertised strawberry flavor. ABV: 13%
Jinro’s grapefruit soju is slightly more bitter than the other flavors. Just like the fruit, this soju has a tangy, sharp quality to it in addition to the alcoholic kick. ABV: 13%
Similar to the taste of green grapes, this soju is known to have a mix of both the sweet and tangy nature represented in Jinro’s strawberry and grapefruit flavors. ABV: 13%
The plum soju emphasizes the sweet nature of soju, without the distinctly berry-like flavor present in the strawberry. This soju’s taste is highly reminiscent of the plum fruit and is a newer take on the traditional Korean drink. ABV: 13%
How to Drink Soju
Soju is typically consumed straight, often in a shot glass. It is a great drink to pair with food or to drink on its own.
While it is typically consumed straight, that doesn’t mean that it can’t make great cocktails too! Like vodka, soju can be mixed with different elements to make delicious cocktails.
Frequently sparkling water or a clear soda is mixed with additional alcohols and fruit flavors. If you’re looking for flavorful elements to mix with your favorite Jinro soju, here are some options!
Soju and Yogurt Drinks
Yogurt drinks, like calpico or yakult (a probiotec Japanese drink) , are very popular to mix with soju. There are different flavored calpico or yakult drinks so you should be able to match the yogurt drink flavor with the flavor of your soju.
Soju and Ice Cream Pops
Flavored ice cream pops are especially good to mix with your favorite flavored soju, or just Fresh soju.
Soju and Fruit Flavors
In terms of fruit flavors, melon flavors and flavors like apple and pear are often mixed with soju to give drinks a fruity pop in addition to the alcohol kick that comes with the clear alcohol.
Soju and Beer
A shot glass of soju dropped into a pint of beer (like Hite Cold) brings out the sweetness already present in the beer and gives the beer that alcoholic kick of the soju.
Food and Soju
Soju, like many alcohols, is also very often paired with food. Of course, Korean BBQ is a classic meal to be paired with soju. The meats that are frequently associated with Korean BBQ have the added bonus of soaking up the alcohol from the soju.
Nuts and dried fruits, a traditional treat with beer or wine, can also be paired with soju. The salty snack of dried squid, and other seafoods are delicious soju drinking snacks, as well as ramen noodles.
Soju VS Sake
Another popular East Asian drink is sake, Japanese in origin. Sake is also usually made from rice, however, sake is fermented when it’s made whereas soju is distilled.
Sake also has a bit of a sweet taste to it, again coming from the rice, but is a bit drier than the soju despite its similar alcohol content. It is typically consumed straight, either alone or with food, and frequently flavored with fruit flavors just like soju.
Preference of soju or sake tends to come down to the production method of the two alcohols. Many drinkers who prefer hard alcohol often prefer soju given that soju and hard alcohol are both distilled. Sake is more similar to beer or wine, given the fermentation process that is used to create the alcoholic beverage.
Soju, like K-Pop music, is another aspect of Korean culture that is sweeping across the globe. The clear, neutral tasting alcohol is an excellent addition to any happy hour or night of fun. Pair your soju with fruit flavors, beer, different foods, or simply enjoy it straight.