Soju and sake are both made from rice. Even though these drinks are both distilled spirits made from rice, they do not taste the same. Soju is what you can call healthy vodka; you can ask any Olympian who made it to the city of Pyeongchang in South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics. It is an almost neutral spirit and a healthy and delicious alternative to vodka.
Soju is probably the most popular spirit in the world. In 2016, Jinro soju took the spot of the number one selling spirit beans by selling 73.9 million 9-liter cases. You might be wondering if those numbers are correct since you haven’t heard of the brand or name soju.
Soju comes from a country that has the highest per capita alcohol consumption. South Korea makes up 97% of its market. What’s so special about this distilled spirit; is it worth trying?
What does soju taste like? Soju tastes like sweet vodka. It doesn’t matter if it is made from potatoes or another starch source. Soju always stays on the sweeter side of spirits. Like Vodka, people love flavoring soju, and there are some pretty wild flavors out there. When you take a shot of soju, you will feel a faint subtle kick in your throat.
Soju can have a great flavor when it is made correctly. But cheap soju can taste and smell like gasoline due to a sketchy production process. The laws surrounding soju production in South Korea are very lax, and there is no quality control.
Nutritional Benefits of Soju
This distilled beverage has about half the alcoholic concentration of most vodka drinks. Its alcoholic content can range from 16 to 45 percent. Soju has nutritional content; a bottle of soju contains about 400 calories.
In that same bottle, you have about 20 grams of carbohydrates, 6 percent of the daily value (DV) of protein, 2 percent of the DV of iron and potassium, and 1 percent of the DV for calcium. If you want to shed weight, you probably should not add soju to your diet because a bottle of soju contains more calories than a bottle of beer.
It is not all bad news when it comes to soju, the number of nutrients in it might not be promising, but it has been discovered that drinking at least one shot of soju daily can reduce the risk of strokes. If you have problems with your digestive system, or you can’t seem to keep things down in your stomach, a shot of soju with a lot of water will do the trick.
Soju is very beneficial in many ways; a mixture of soju and salt can reduce inflammation, swelling, chest pain, and cough. It is also recommended as a remedy for diarrhea and bowel movement issues. Most of these benefits are not backed up by science. They are experienced by people who have consumed this spirit.
When drinking, alcohol should be consumed in small amounts; binge drinking is harmful to one’s health and will do more harm than good. Too much soju can cause depression and cause diseases related to excessive alcohol consumption. If you are below the drinking age, a pregnant woman, or a nursing mother, stay away from soju.
How to Drink Soju
Pairing spirits with food is risky, but soju is meant to be enjoyed with food. Soju has mutual benefits with food; it can be drunk to tone down spicy flavors. In umami-flavored dishes, a shot of soju can help you bring out the richness.
In South Korea, where soju is most commonly consumed, this spirit is usually paired with classic street food like samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly), tteokbokki, street food made up of pork trotter and broth, and anything with kimchi in it.
There are traditional customs associated with soju. It is a communal drink meant for special occasions. On such events, you should never pour your soju. The group’s eldest member will go first. You have to accept the shot with your face turned away from the server to avoid making eye contact. You have to accept the shot with two hands, not one. Then you take the shot and down it in one go.
After this tradition is complete, the drinking atmosphere becomes more relaxed; you can go easy and sip your shots if you are not too great at holding your liquor. Most Koreans just throw it into the back of their throats because of its low ABV (Alcohol by Volume).
What is the Origin of Soju? Where to Procure it?
Soju has been around since the 1300s. Historians believe that the Mongols brought the art of distilling to Korea. The Mongols used the Persian technique of distilling arak, and they brought it with them to Korea as they tried to conquer the world. Soju became popular, and it remained that way for centuries. In the 1900s, the production of soju was suppressed, and Japanese sake and beer became more popular.
Soju means “burned liquor.” The name directly references the distillation that happens at a high temperature. Soju is usually made from rice, but it can also be made from other starchy foods like potatoes and tapioca.
When Korea was liberated from Japan in the 1950s, the government banned using rice to produce soju. This made people turn to other sources of starch to make soju. The ban was lifted in the 1990s, but it is not uncommon to see soju made from a starch source other than rice or a combination of different starch sources.
Soju is easy to procure in South Korea and most Asian countries. You can find soju in restaurants, stores, or Asian food markets that don’t have a full liquor license. They can sell it because of its low ABV, it is always mistakenly classified under rice wine.
What is the Best Soju Flavor?
There are many soju flavors out there. The peach flavor is one of the best, followed by Blueberry, Grapefruit, Green Grape, and Apple flavors.
Facts You Don’t Know About Soju
- Soju and Shochu are not the same drink. It is a common misconception that needs to be corrected.
- Once a bottle of soju has been opened, not one drop should be left in the bottle. This has led to severe hangovers for newbies that are trying out soju.