Soju

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Soju (Hangul 소주; Hanja 燒酒) is a distilled beverage native to Korea. Its taste is comparable to vodka, though often slightly sweeter due to the sugars added in the manufacturing process, and more commonly consumed neat.

Most brands of modern soju are made in South Korea. Though traditionally made from rice, most major brands supplement or even replace the rice with other starches such as potato, wheat, barley, sweet potato, or tapioca (called dangmil in Korean). Soju is clear in colour and typically varies in alcohol content from about 20% to about 45% alcohol by volume (ABV), with 20% ABV being most common. It is widely consumed, in part, because of its relatively low price in Korea. A typical 300mL bottle of soju costs the consumer 1,000 to 3,000 South Korean Won (roughly $1 to $3 United States Dollars.)

Contents

Etymology

Linguistically, the word soju is the Korean rendering of the Chinese 燒酒 (pinyin: shaojiu), which literally means "burned liquor". (Incidentally, the Dutch-derived English word brandy—literally "burned wine"—uses the same linguistic concept to describe a distilled alcoholic beverage.) The Chinese word shaojiu is rendered in Japanese as shōchū, the word that denotes a distilled alcoholic beverage that is similar to soju.

Soju in Korea

History

Soju was first distilled around 13th century during the Mongol invasions of Korea. The Mongols had acquired the technique of distilling arak(aragh) from the Persians(Iran)[1] during their invasion of Central Asia/Middle East around 1256, then it was subsequently introduced to Koreans and distilleries were set up around the city of Kaesong. Indeed, in the area surrounding Kaesong, soju is known as arak-ju (hangul: 아락주).[2]

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