KOREAN NAME: 고택 찹쌀 생주
REVIEW: For my birthday, I took my friends over to Sool Gaeguri (술 개구리) in the Hapjeong/Sangsu area for—you know it—makgeolli. One of the bottles we ordered was a bit different. Only 500 ml but packing a high ABV-punch of 13.5%, we weren’t sure what to expect from Gotaek Chapssal Saengju other than it wasn’t makgeolli and it wasn’t soju.
To be honest, I’m still not sure what Gotaek is. According to Gotaek Jujo, the brewery, it’s a saengju, or fresh liquor, but this doesn’t really help. My guess is that Gotaek is a cheongju (or, as some call it, yakju). To explain, it might be necessary to look at how makgeolli is made. If you’d like to make makgeolli, you brew what is called wonju. Wonju is made up of two parts: a heavy sediment called takju, and a yellowish liquid known as cheongju/yakju. Cheongju is often siphoned off and used to distill soju. If you’d like to try a very basic (and not good) cheongju, pick up a bottle of Cheongha (청하): it’s available at almost every convenience store and restaurant. The takju, meanwhile, is mixed with water and—BAM—makgeolli is ready!
Suffice it to say, I could only guess what it would taste like after all this inductive reasoning. I was totally surprised to find Gotaek is pure tangy deliciousness. The first wave is sour with a faint sweetness that deepens into something bitter, boozy, and complex. But none of these flavors overpower; they just add onto one another in layers for a tasting experience that is complex and one that you’ll want to repeat over and over again.
Thank you, Gotaek, for a very welcome birthday present!
Body: Watery. As this is a cheongju, the body is a translucent brownish-yellow.
Smell: Vinegary, lemon, acidic, with a slight booze burn.
BREWERY: Gotaek Jujo (고택주조)
ORIGIN: Jeollabuk-do, Wanju-gun, Gui-myeon (전라북도, 완주군, 구이면)
PURCHASED: Seoul, Hapjeong Station, Sool Gaeguri (서울, 합정역, 술 개구리)
Sool Gaeguri sells the 500 ml bottle for ₩12-13,000.
AVAILABILITY: For the time being, I have only seen Gotaek Chapssal at Sool Gaeguri (Korean for “Booze Frog”, by the way). I’ll update this post if I see it elsewhere.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 13.5%
INGREDIENTS: purified water, Wanju glutinous rice (32.65%), Korean nuruk
VOLUME: 500 ml / 750 ml
PASTEURIZED: No (Shelf-life 5 months)