Being an avid watcher of K-drama shows, I’d often see the characters going to restaurants, having delicious food and gulping down shot upon shot of something called ‘soju’.
Such is its popularity that practically every single show set in the modern age has at least one scene per episode where its characters are seen consuming this alcoholic drink.
Soju, a rice or wheat-based alcoholic drink is almost seen as an unofficial national drink of South Korea, but 80 countries around the world can also enjoy it, given its large popularity.
Soju’s origins date back to the 13th century where people of the Goryeo kingdom learnt about a process of distillation from the Persians but applied it to fermented grains. Soju is made by boiling filtered rice wine for about 15 days in a large metal pot that is then topped with a tall distilling appliance with a pipe called the ‘soju gori’.
But what else do we know about one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the world?
Literally The Most Popular Drink
As per reports, in 2016 Drinks International appointed soju as the most popular drink in the world, with the Jinro soju also being the No. 1 selling spirit brand in the world at 73.9 million 9-liter cases sold.
This is not just for recent years, but Jinro soju has been one of the best-selling beverages around the world for almost more than a decade now.
While one would have thought that Western-approved drinks like wine or vodka would take the title, instead it is soju. In 2004 itself, more than 3 billion bottles of soju were consumed in South Korea alone. Another report from 2014 stated how the average shots of spiriti per week consumption of South Koreans was much higher standing at 13.7, while Russians came second at 6.3.
Extremely Cheap To Come By
Soju is their nation’s drink and it shows by the humongous popularity it sees among not just the rich, but even the economically weaker sections.
Everyone loves soju, mostly because it is a cheap and easily available drink around their country. The alcoholic drink is priced anywhere between 1,500 to 4,500 Korean won which amounts to 1-4 USD. Barely chump change if you ask me.
This makes it the go-to alcoholic beverage for anyone, from young college students, to working people, couples, friends, elderly citizens, tourists and more.
Not Quick To Give Hangover
Another reason for its popularity could be that while the drink is flavourful, it is not very high in alcohol content. Where vodka has around 40-50% alcohol content, soju stands at a much lower 16-45%.
However, the Andong Soju is a type of soju that has a very strong alcohol level, standing at 40-45% by volume. But that could be one reason why Koreans usually save this to be given as a gift during big holidays or family functions. Interestingly, the process to make this stays true to the 700-year-old distilling process with no modern chemicals added in.
Soju for the most part is mild and watery in flavour, making it a good option for those who don’t want to go for hard liquor and get blackout drunk.
Soju being milder, takes a while to get someone drink, so a person can easily have anywhere between 3-4 shots without really getting drunk.
Another way to make it milder is by creating a Somaek, which is a mix of beer and soju. Some people even drop a whole shot of soju inside a beer mug to make it fancier.
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