KOREAN NAME: 미몽 막걸리
REVIEW: According to Kooksoondang’s website, Mi Mong means “The Dream of the Rice”. The poetic name, the glass bottle, the label illustrated like a classic East Asian painting you’ve seen in a museum—everything bespeaks an upmarket product that should be sipped not swilled. On the bottom of the label, you can even find the words 고급 막걸리—luxury makgeolli.
But that smell. I haven’t experienced that smell since my first year of reviewing when I was hell-bent on tasting every weird bottle I could get my hands on. Honestly, I nearly pitched it because I thought it had gone bad. It’s earthy to be sure, but with a sharp twang that makes your nose wrinkle. It’s like a bag of mushrooms that have been rotting in the back drawer of your fridge. In truth, my bottle hadn’t gone off: it was simply the aggressive scent of ginseng, an integral ingredient of Mi Mong.
What’s more, the flavor was much nicer than the aroma. It’s full of ginseng so if that isn’t your thing, you’ll want to steer clear. And, for some truth talk, gentle reader: I am not a ginseng-lover but I still appreciated this brew for certain aspects. Its smoothness was refreshing. And there is a pleasant bite in the aftertaste that gives Mi Mong a depth the body lacks. The bitterness of the ginseng is well balanced against the sweetness, reminding me strangely of fresh-squeezed lemonade.
All that being said, the ginseng is a bit of a deal-breaker, personally, and the smell is plain off-putting. I can’t recommend this bottle but it’s not all together bad. In the end, it’s a small bottle for a cheap price; give it a go if it sounds like your sort of thing.
Appearance: Good separation with clear cheongju if left to sit. Milky white when shaken.
Smell: Ginseng earthiness that could be enticing or repugnant that entirely depends on how much of an old Korean man you are.
Body: Thin but the aftertaste has a pleasant bite that adds depth.
BREWERY: Kooksoondang Brewery Co. (국순당)
ORIGIN: Gangwon-do, Hoengseong-gun (강원도, 회성군)
PURCHASED: Seoul, Songpa-gu, Jamsil, Lotte Department Store Basement Supermarket (서울, 송파구, 잠실, 롯데백화점)
AVAILABILITY: While not ubiquitous, this bottle turns up at department store supermarkets as well as other outlets with some regularity.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 7%
INGREDIENTS: Purified water, Korean rice, fructose, Korean ginseng, yeast, wheat enzymes, citric acid
VOLUME: 360 ml
PASTEURIZED: Yes (Shelf-life 1 year)