Soju 101: Understanding the Different Types of Soju
Soju is a South Korean liquor that has found incredible popularity worldwide. This rice wine–pronounced “sow-joo”–has been catching on in the United States and is used to make a variety of cocktails. Those new to this beverage may find themselves asking: “What are the different types of soju?” The answer is, quite a few!
Soju is classified by how it’s made, what it’s made from, and the flavors that are added to it. Here’s a look at some of the most common types of soju you may come across as you explore this exciting, exotic drink.
The 3 main types of soju
Soju can be broadly categorized into 3 distinct types based on the way they are made.
1. Distilled soju
All traditional types of soju fall into the “distilled” category. Produced by simply distilling and bottling the liquor, without any extra steps, the result is a well-refined rice wine with a fairly high alcohol content—around 25%. Since lighter spirits are becoming more popular, some brands have stopped making distilled soju, but you can still find plenty of options.
2. Diluted soju
Diluted soju is made in almost the same way as distilled soju, but water is added to the bottle to lower the alcohol content. Today, many brands of diluted soju have an alcohol content of around 14%. This makes it perfect for sipping while enjoying your meal.
3. Cocktail soju
As flavored beverages gain popularity, fruity flavored soju has taken the spotlight. This light, pleasant drink can be consumed on its own or used as an ingredient in cocktails. These also typically have an alcohol content of between 12% and 14%.
Popular types of soju
You can subcategorize types of soju based on their ingredients. Here are 5 of the most popular types of soju.
1. Chamisul soju
Chamisul is a classic soju made from sweet potatoes and other starches. It’s commonly found in Korean restaurants, bars, and markets but can easily be found in most major cities around the world.
2. Chum Churum soju
Chum churum soju is made from rice and grains. It has a soft taste and is less bitter than other types of soju. This is a great option for newcomers who are not yet accustomed to the taste of traditional soju.
3. Good Day soju
Good Day soju not only has the cutest name but is made in the southern part of Korea using pure water from Jiri Mountain, which gives it a clean, mild taste. This type of soju is also available in many fruit flavors.
4. O2Linn soju
O2Linn, also called “oxygen soju” because it’s infused with large amounts of oxygen, has an even cleaner taste than Good Day soju. The best part is this type of distillation places emphasis on eco-friendly methods of alcohol production. One could argue drinking this beverage is supporting the environment.
5. Andong soju
This type of soju is on the expensive side, but it’s something everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. Made of wheat and rice that’s fermented for 15 days, this drink has a silky texture, slight citrus flavor, and high alcohol content–typically around 22% to 45%.
Types of soju flavors
Flavored soju is becoming more popular in both Korea and the United States. While there are hundreds of different flavors available, here are a few personal favorites.
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1. Alakei soju
Alakei soju is a somewhat dry, medium-bodied soju that has aromas of fermented pear and grape. It also has a delicate, peppery finish, typically with an alcohol content of around 24%.
2. Apple soju
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’ll love apple soju. It has a wonderful apple flavor and goes down easy. This is one of the most common soju flavors in Korea and is one of the major reasons the drink has gained such popularity.
3. Blueberry soju
Blueberry soju has a pleasant blueberry flavor and just the right amount of sweetness. This type pairs especially well with mixed drinks.
4. Barley soju
Barley soju is made from 100% barley that is distilled and aged in oak barrels. It carries an oaky scent and a subtle taste.
5. Lemongrass soju
Lemongrass soju is made from exotic yellow blossom rice and is distilled 5 times. It carries the scents of lime, lemon, and ginger and tends to have a higher alcohol content—around 24%.
6. Grapefruit soju
Grapefruit is one of the most popular types of soju in Korea. It’s the perfect blend of sour grapefruit and a hint of sweetness, placing it solidly between a traditional soju and fruit-flavored soju.
7. Peach soju
Peach soju offers a soft, sweet flavor that is popular among younger drinkers and ideal for those who don’t particularly enjoy the taste of alcohol.
8. Green grape soju
If you like grapefruit soju, you’ll definitely enjoy green grape soju as well. It has a fresh, sweet taste, a strong grape scent, and a high enough alcohol content to make you tipsy.
9. Citron soju
Citron soju is also similar to grapefruit soju, but it has a cleaner, crisper taste. Sometimes difficult to find in restaurants and bars, this is a beverage you’ll likely have to buy from a retail store.
10. Watermelon soju
Watermelon lovers will rejoice at the clean, crisp flavor of watermelon soju. Delicious on its own, it is also a spectacular addition to any mixologist’s collection.
11. Plum soju
Plum soju is one of the most popular types of fruit-infused soju in Korea. It has a sweet plum flavor, a refreshing taste, and is best served ice cold.
12. Strawberry soju
Strawberry soju is refreshing, sweet, and tastes like spring. Serve it on its own or use it to mix up a delicious strawberry-flavored cocktail.
Start experimenting with soju today!
There are so many different types of soju to explore, try experimenting with a variety of styles, flavors, and mixed drinks. The best part is, you won’t have to run to the store each time you want to try a new variety. Instacart has you covered, just fill your cart and choose same-day delivery or pick up at check out.
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