KOREAN NAME: 순희
REVIEW: Bohae Brewery’s Soony is a bottle that is slightly difficult to come by but has all the traits of a bottom-shelf brew: i.e., pasteurized and made with aspartame as well as a whole host of other additives. This includes stevia, a sugar substitute, and something called tomatine. This is apparently a glycoalkaloid that is found in the stems and leaves of tomato plants, and it is poisonous if ingested in large enough quantities. (You can read about it here or here, and there a number of other sites out there that describe its properties as well.)
I’m doing a good job of selling it, right? Well, I will say this for Soony—despite being a poor imitation of what makgeolli can and should taste like, it is not as bad as many of its mass-produced competitors. The carbonation keeps it from having an overly bland and watery mouthfeel. And, while Bohae does make use of a host of additives, they should be commended for finding a good balance: Soony is not overly sweet or artificial tasting, and the aspartame aftertaste is next to non-existent.
The thing I keep coming back to is, “Why tomatine?” I’m not sure what it enhances (or masks), but knowing that it is poisonous is, plain and simple, a red flag that you cannot ignore.
Smell: Familiar dusty, yogurt scent common with many pasteurized makgeollis.
SCORE: 4/7 for taste or 0/7 for tomatine
BREWERY: Bohae Brewery (보해양주)
For information in English regarding Soony, check here.
ORIGIN: Jeollanam-do, Jangseong-gun (전라남도, 장성군)
PURCHASED: Seoul, Gangdong-gu, Cheonho Station, 2001 Outlet Living Mall, Kim’s Club (서울, 강동구, 천호역)
AVAILABILITY: This is bottle is, of course, available at the Kim’s Club location listed above, as well as at Homeplus. Also, it is one of the few bottles reviewed that is available in the U.S. Check out the post Makgeolli in the USA.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 6%
INGREDIENTS: Imported rice, purified water, iso-oligosaccharide, leavened yeast, extracted enzymes, citric acid, aspartame, carbonation, tomatine, stevia
VOLUME: 750 ml
OTHER FACTS: Bohae’s most famous (or at least most widely-available product) is probably Bokbunjajoo (복분자주), a desert wine made from Korean black raspberries. Check here for a bit more information. Another of their products that is becoming more visible is A Hob Si Vahn Soju (아홉시반 소주). According to the website: “Although the name ‘A Hob Si Vahn’ literally means 9:30, to us it means ‘the time real talk begins’.” If you live in Korea, you might recognize the blue label with the man bent as if his head and feet were the hands of a clock.