KOREAN NAME: 만강에 비친 달
REVIEW: Mangang-e Bichin Dal (MeBD) might have the most poetic (and long-winded) name in the sool biz. According to the bottle, it translates to The Moon Shining on MANG-GANG, Mangang having something to do with a river. While it might be a mouthful, it somehow fits this brew. MeBD is atypically pale yellow in color, seemingly to reinforce the connection with moonlight. And the watery mouthfeel and low alcohol content—surprising for an iyangju, or two-step fermentation—impart a different sense of lightness. Or maybe I’m a bit too buzzed and a bit too poetic.
Regardless, I think these qualities might make MeBD the perfect bottle to introduce to those casual makgeolli drinkers looking to leave the green plastic bottle stuff behind and venture on to something a bit more refined. First off, it’s definitely on the sweet side. I don’t mean that it uses aspartame or any other artificial sweeteners, but the high sugar content should be familiar to someone relatively new to makgeolli.
But there’s something beyond just being another sweet brew: there’s a subtle citrus-quality to the flavor. This is quite rare for makgeolli as it is notoriously difficult to get citrus infusions to work. No doubt this flavoring comes from MeBD’s secret ingredient—sweet pumpkin. The brew is rounded off with a a brief but welcome punch of tartness.
In the end, MeBD is not a bottle I could drink all night as it pulls a bit too far on the sweet side. Next time I purchase a bottle, I’ll probably stick it in the fridge to age a few months so the yeast has a chance to consume more of the sugar. Nevertheless, it is an excellent bottle, one I often suggest when out at a joomak just because it seems to be such a crowd pleaser.
Appearance: Pale yellow, almost like an egg tart. Little sediment.
Scent: Sweet potato, vanilla, cinnamon. You can tell the sugar content is high.
Mouthfeel: Watery – Much lighter than the appearance would have you believe.
RATING: Highly Recommended
BREWERY: Ye-sul (예술)
ORIGIN: Gangwon-do, Hongcheon-gun (강원도, 홍천군)
PURCHASED: Online via their website. One bottle of MeBD is ₩12,000.
AVAILABILITY: Once again, it’s best to make your way to a nice joomak or to purchase directly from their site.
ALCOHOL CONTENT: 10%
INGREDIENTS: Hongcheon rice, purified water, sweet pumpkin, nuruk
VOLUME: 500 ml
PASTEURIZED: No (Shelf-life 60 days)
OTHER NOTES: Ye-sul offers a Hongcheon Gang Takju (₩10,000), Dongmong Yakju (₩30,000), and Mujak 53 Soju, which doesn’t seem to be for sale yet.