The national drink of Korea, soju is the best selling liquorin the world by volume, and sales have only been growing in recent years. Long underrated in America, soju is finally starting to gain traction stateside. But if you’ve never had the spirit, or even heard of it, here’s everything you need to know about soju to get acquainted.
WHAT IS SOJU?
At its most basic, soju is a clear, 20-24 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) spirit. It’s from Korea, and is mostly consumed in Korea, Japan, and China, with Jinrobeing the most popular brand. Soju is neutral-tasting like vodka, but doesn’t have the harsh alcohol burn thanks to having around half the percentage of alcohol. Soju is traditionally consumed straight with food but also mixes well into cocktails.
Another thing to know about soju is that the taste can vary considerably, thanks to lax laws regarding the ingredients used to make it. In general, soju resembles a low-alcohol, tasteless version of vodka, but it’s more viscous and a little sweeter.
Soju is deeply rooted in Korea's social culture. Traditionally, friends and family will gather and polish off an entire bottle in one go, passing around shot glasses and serving each other. But soju also pairs nicely with food and higher-alcohol varieties work nicely in cocktails as a substitute for vodka, gin and even whiskey.