Makgeolli: Korea’s Specialty Liquor

British publication The Independent published an article about a couple months ago that managed to fly under my radar. But, as I’m a sucker for any article that tries to broaden makgeolli’s audience, I couldn’t resist. Here are a few choice excerpts from Angela Son and Joan Vos Macdonald’s article in The Independent:

Freshly brewed makgeolli has a distinctive flavour that has alternatively been described as sweet and tart, creamy, bitter and astringent. Although bottled makgeolli is sold worldwide, exported versions have to be sterilised to stop the fermentation process, then treated with preservatives and sweeteners such as aspartame to mask the taste. That’s why anyone enthusiastic about Korean cuisine, interesting liquors, probiotics or educating their palate should travel to South Korea if they want to try authentic, freshly brewed makgeolli…

“Korean alcohol has faced a lot of challenges over the past century and is still often considered a low-quality beverage,” said Mellor. “However, we are seeing year by year more small batch artisan producers who are using better quality ingredients, longer fermentation times, and refusing to use artificial sweeteners.” 

At least 700 small scale breweries currently exist in South Korea. “In the past, makgeolli used to be considered as cheap and old-fashioned, so sellers focused only on selling big quantities to consumers,” said Jang Yoon Suk, head of marketing at Neurin Maeul, a trendy makgeolli bar in Seoul. “Today, the makgeolli industry overall is trying to appeal to consumers by offering novelty and high-end makgeollis.”

Read the whole The Independent article here.

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