KOREAN NAME: 옛날 막걸리
REVIEW: To be completely honest, I didn’t like Yetnal the first time I had it a couple years ago. At that point my exposure to makgeolli was the “house” makgeolli (whatever that was) that I was drinking at my local joomak, or whatever was on hand at the corner store. In other words, fizzy, watery, additive-heavy junk. Yetnal, in contrast, was like a punch in the face. (In hindsight, I’m thankful for that punch.)
The first big difference is the color: Yetnal—or ‘Old Days’ in English—has a distinct ochre hue and a thick base of chalky sediment. Be careful when shaking the brew; you’re likely to have a big cleanup with all the carbonation Yetnal is packing. The flavor is dry-ish and boozy with the kind of mustardy, sulfuric flavors that are present in some of the brews I’ve tried for the Unique Makgeolli Spirits section. Finally, the body has a rich, heavy feel that is born out in the aftertaste.
All this is to say, good on Kooksoondang Brewery. I don’t have a lot of faith in major makgeolli breweries to make something good or even interesting, but Yetnal bucks the trend. It’s an unpasteurized makgeolli that uses fructose, not aspartame, and it is unlike any of the other main market competitors. And although it may not be your immediate favorite, especially if you’re new to makgeolli, it is certainly one of the most interesting on supermarket shelves.
Smell: Yetnal has a very strong aroma that has notes of banana, mustard, yeast, and pepper.
BREWERY: Kooksoondang Brewery Co. (국순당)
ORIGINS: Gangwon-do, Hoengseong-gun (강원도, 회성군)
PURCHASED: Seoul, Gwangjin-gu, E-Mart (서울, 광진구)
AVAILABILITY: Yetnal can be found at all three major supermarkets.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 7%
INGREDIENTS: Purified water, Korean rice, wheat-based extracted enzymes, fructose, leavened yeast, Korean bellflower
VOLUME: 750 ml
PASTEURIZED: No (15-day shelf life)