KOREAN NAME: 곤드레
REVIEW: Gondurae is named after the cirsium setidens herb grown and eaten in Gangwon-do, the province from which Gondurae is brewed. Coincidentally (or not?), there’s a Korean expression “곤드레만드레” (gonduraemandurae), which I’ve seen translated as “staggering drunk”, “tanked up”, or, the best translation yet – “drunk as a piper”.
When you add potatoes to the list of ingredients, you’re probably thinking this is going to be a makgeolli that reaches the realm of amazing disasters. But, as far as I can tell, both cirsium setidens and potatoes are negligible in the final flavor. What comes through is a pleasingly rich and creamy flavor that shares something in common with a nice Greek yogurt. Despite being a bit on the watery side, this makgeolli tastes textured and leaves a pleasant coating on the tongue. Full disclosure: it does contain aspartame, which is a big letdown, but even this flavor has been seriously downplayed and nearly gets lost altogether in the tangy aftertaste.
You’re thinking to yourself, “Yeah, sell it more…” But, honestly, Gondurae is a real treat and I definitely would get it again in the future.
Body: Medium thick.
Smell: Unassuming yogurt scent.
BREWERY: Jeongseonmyeongju (정선명주)
(It looks like the website has expired but you can find their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/gondrae.)
ORIGIN: Gangwon-do, Jeongseon-gun (강원도, 정선군)
PURCHASED: Seoul, COEX, Food Week Korea, Makgeolli Expo (서울)
AVAILABILITY: Limited to makgeolli houses at the moment. I expect it’s easier to find if you go to or live in the Gangwon-do region.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 6%
INGREDIENTS: Korean rice (89.7%), Jeongseon potatoes (10%), Jeongseon cirsium setidens (.3%), aspartame (.0009%)
VOLUME: 700 ml