KOREAN NAME: 소백산 생막걸리
REVIEW: Sobaeksan is a bottle I’ve been saving for a while. The first time I had it, I had just spent four hours hiking the Seoul Fortress Wall up Bugaksan, I convinced my friends to find a little makgeolli house I had heard of called Majoong, and, when we asked the server for a recommendation, he brought us Sobaeksan. At this point in time, knowing nothing about makgeolli and being absolutely exhausted from our outing, my friends and I thought Sobaeksan was makgeolli perfection. (And somewhat fitting that we were drinking Sobaek Mountain Makgeolli right after summiting Bugak Mountain.)
I have since come down from my Sobaeksan high but, of all the makgeollis that I’ve tasted that include aspartame, it is second only to Gaedo Saeng Makgeolli, in my opinion. Sobaeksan is fizzy, light, and refreshing—the perfect sort of bottle to enjoy on a warm, spring day by the river or after a good hike. While creamy and sweet, the brew is balanced with a slightly lingering bitter note.
But, as I already mentioned, that bitter note is tainted with the slight hint of aspartame. For this reason, the brew cannot be a truly great makgeolli. And yet, if you listen to my friend Mark, “There is no finer makgeolli than Sobaeksan.”
BREWERY: Daegang Yangjojang (대강양조장)
ORIGIN: Chungcheong-do, Danyang-gun, Degang-myeon (충청도, 단양군, 대강면)
PURCHASED: Seoul, Gwangjin-gu, Keondae Gol Makgeolli Jib (서울, 광진구, 건대골 막걸리집)
AVAILABILITY: Sobaeksan is not a bottle you’ll find at any store but many joomaks sell this bottle. You should be able to pick one up for about ₩4,000.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 6%
INGREDIENTS: Korean rice (60%), imported wheat (40%), aspartame (.009%)
VOLUME: 750 ml
PASTEURIZED: No (30-day shelf life)
OTHER FACTS: Daegang Yangjojang’s other widely available makgeolli is their black bean makgeolli (검은콩 막걸리), which is also quite nice.