KOREAN NAME: 부자 16
REVIEW: Buja 16 was one of those bottles I heard about when I first moved to Korea as it seemed to be one of the few widely available, non-aspartame brews. Of course, when I went looking for it, it was nowhere to be found. (I will say I occasionally bump into Buja Purple, Buja 16’s sweet-potato-infused cousin but I’ve never given it a try.) So, when I came across it at Aoi Sora, I decided to take one for the road.
From a presentation stand point, Bae Hyejeong Doga (BHD) has made a really pretty-looking product. The glass bottle gets a big thumbs up both for uniqueness and for really selling the idea that makgeolli can be a craft product. And, of course, it nicely showcases the stark contrast between the cheongju and the settled takju. According to BHD’s website, “BUJA rice wine is the first rice wine product to be bottled in a glass bottle.” (As an aside, the site also claims that Buja 16 “…also is first rice wine to use very expensive branded rice in Korea.”)
Before shaking it up, I wanted to know if the cheongju could stand on its own. It’s got caramel notes with a high sugar content. But ultimately, it seemed to thin, even astringent, for my liking. I was looking for something with more of a punch. I mixed in the takju and drained another cup. While this was definitely an improvement, Buja 16 still has a thin body with a lot of sediment; it was almost like drinking a powdered chocolate milk but the powder hadn’t been integrated very well. Moreover, that astringent caramel sweetness lingered unpleasantly: the more I drank, the more I wanted to be done with that flavor.
Appearance: The cheongju is strikingly yellow, while the takju is brownish.
Smell: Nuruk, wheat, honey.
Body: Thin and slightly grainy.
BREWERY: Bae Hyejeong Doga, or BHD (배혜정 도가)
I know I’ve mentioned it in other BHD reviews but it is so refreshing to see a brewery actually have an English-language site.
ORIGIN: Gyeonggi-do, Hwaseong (경기도, 화성시)
PURCHASED: Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Aoi Sora (서울, 용산구, 아오이 소라)
AVAILABILITY: Your best bet is to look for this one at joomak, Aoi Sora if you must.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 16%
INGREDIENTS: Korean rice, purified water, high fructose, yeast, extracted enzymes, citric acid, lactate
VOLUME: 300 ml
PASTEURIZED: Yes (Shelf-life of 1 year)
NOTE: BHD also makes Buja 13 and Buja 10, the numbers referring to the alcohol content.