KOREAN NAME: 광양 매실 막걸리
REVIEW: To the Western ear, plum juice sounds like something old people drink. But for Koreans, maesil (pronounced may-shil) juice is a beloved drink that is easy to find at the store or in Korean markets. Baekun Juga has taken things to the next logical step with their infusion Gwangyang Maesil Makgeolli. Of the fruit infusion makgeollis I’ve had so far, Gwangyang Maesil is one of the better ones. The plum juice enhances the makgeolli flavor without dominating it. And, even though the brew uses aspartame, I couldn’t really notice it when I was drinking or in the aftertaste. My one regret is that it is pasteurized, which again means that there are no live and active cultures. Which, more importantly, means this brew is flat and watery in terms of mouthfeel. I’d love to try an unpasteurized bottle if you’re reading Baekun Juga.
Body: Very watery. Despite the plum juice infusion, the color is your typical cream-colored makgeolli.
Smell: This brew is dominated by the sweet, fruity scent of the plum juice.
BREWERY: Baekun Juga (백은주가)
ORIGIN: Jeollanam-do, Gwangyang, Okryong-myeon (전라남도, 광양시, 옥룡면)
PURCHASED: Seoul, Gangdong-gu, Cheonho Station, Hyundai Department Store (서울, 강동구, 천호역, 현대백화점)
AVAILABILITY: I’ve only seen Gwangyang Maesil at this particular Hyundai Department Store, though it may be at others. You can also purchase 20 bottles—20!—from their website for ₩30,000.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 7%
INGREDIENTS: Gwangyang plum juice (2.57%), Korean rice, imported wheat, aspartame (.0008%), acesulfame potassium (.0008%)
VOLUME: 750 ml
OTHER FACTS: Gwangyang holds the Maehwa Festival (or Plum Festival) every year in early to mid-March. According to the Visit Korea site, you can see “100,000 plum trees blossoming all together”. I’m guessing you can also try some Gwangyang Maesil.