KOREAN NAME: 풍정 사계 춘
REVIEW: Pungjeong Sagye Chun (PSC) cheongju is one of the unexpectedly delightful finds that I came across at COEX’s Wines & Spirits Expo 2016. Hwayang’s booth was not ostentatious, nor did they make an overt effort to attract visitors. Even after stopping and asking for a sample, the rep at the booth simply let PSC do the talking.
Which was fine by me as I was impressed by PSC in a way that I wasn’t expecting. Of course, it helps that the brews come in glass bottles. And the labeling is attractive enough, done in that sort of style that bespeaks a Korean calligrapher who’s one or two cups in. But, it’s the lovely flavor that truly makes this cheongju worth it. The first pull is a bit thin and sweet, as the honey in the scent would suggest. Yet, the sweetness evolves into something fuller, more biting, until it fills your mouth and the booze outweighs the sweetness and gently presses you to take another sip.
I might be waxing poetic here but small, worthy Korean sool breweries need more help than most and I would be happy to help one or two others discover the treat Hwayang has brewed up for them. While you might find other cheongjus you enjoy more, PSC should be a welcome change of pace for the die-hards of other, more well-known brews.
Appearance: Pale yellow, nearly transparent.
Smell: Honey, green apples, grape, slightly boozy.
BREWERY: Hwayang (화양)
ORIGIN: Cheongju, Chungcheong-do (충청북도, 청주시)
PURCHASED: 14th Wines & Spirits Expo 2016
AVAILABILITY: As far as I know the only place to purchase this is via the website. One bottle goes for ₩30,000.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 15%
INGREDIENTS: non-glutinous rice, glutinous rice, nuruk, purified water (all ingredients sourced from Korea)
VOLUME: 500 ml
OTHER FACTS: Pungjeong, in Korean, means maple tree well, sagye means four seasons, and chun means spring. It appears from Hwayang’s website that they will eventually offer a gwahaju (fortified wine) for summer, or ha (하) and a takju (read: makgeolli) for fall, or chu (추). The booze of choice for winter, or dong (동), is soju, which is already being sold on the website. There are two sojus to choose from: one that is 25% ABV and the other that is 42% ABV.
Edited to reflect the comments made below!