If you’re a lover of Korean cuisine, you have to check out these top Soju brands!
Quick, what’s the best-selling alcoholic spirit in the world? Nope, it’s not Scotch whisky or Smirnoff Vodka. The answer is Soju!
Wait, what? Soju is a type of wine made from rice in the Korean region. Think of it as the Korean version of Japanese Sake.
So how does a drink made and consumed in only one country end up being the most sought-after drink in the world?
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This is due to South Korea’s drinking culture. If you thought the Irish could drink, wait till you see South Korea!
Soju is sold everywhere in South Korea, and by everywhere I mean everywhere!
You can find it in restaurants, convenience stores, supermarkets, drugstores, etc., etc.
|Best Soju Brands||% of Alcohol||Price Group||My Rating|
|West 32 Soju||20 percent||Expensive||4.5/5|
|Jinro Chamisul||17.9 percent||Affordable||4/5|
|Chum Churum||18 percent||Very Affordable||4.5/5|
|GoodDay||18 percent||Very Affordable||3.5/5|
|C1 Blue||18 percent||Medium||4/5|
And Soju isn’t just consumed as a standalone drink. It’s also used in cooking.
Then there’s the variety of drinks you can make by adding Soju to fruit juices, colas, beers, and other spirits.
So if you want to try this drink for yourself, here are some of the best Soju brands (both Korean and American) in the market today. Have a look!
Top Soju Brands 2021
West 32 Soju
So this was the first Soju brand that I tasted. And the biggest reason why I was attracted to West 32 was because of its alcohol content.
The Soju contains a whopping 20 percent alcohol content. Oh boy! This one will get you buzzed for sure.
West 32 Soju tastes just like you’d expect a drink with this much alcohol to taste like. It’s sharp but clean and very refreshing.
Unlike other popular Soju brands such as Chamisul Fresh, it’s not very sweet.
You should look out for other brands if you prefer your Soju mild. But if you love the alcohol content and want to get drunk, drunk. West 32 is the one for you!
And the thing is, this Soju isn’t too bad to drink. It goes down easily and doesn’t leave you coughing up.
It’s a US-based brand though. So if you’re a purist and want to buy Korean-made Soju brands only, you can try Chamisul or some other brands.
The Soju also claims to be all-natural and gluten-free. It is also made with 100 percent GMO-free ingredients.
Now we come to the price! Unfortunately, West 32 Soju is more expensive than others on this list.
But if you want a stronger Soju, it’s worth the price!
If you’re looking for an authentic, Korean-made Soju, you cannot go wrong with Chamisul Fresh.
It’s perhaps the most popular Soju brand in Korea. The alcohol content here is 16.9 percent.
Want to know something funny? There is a reason why Chamisul Fresh has alcohol upto 16.9 percent and not 17 percent.
The Korean government doesn’t allow advertisements for alcoholic beverages with more than 17 percent alcohol to run between 7 am and 10 pm. Talk about street smarts, eh?
Jinro makes the Chamisul Soju using potatoes and other starchy vegetables. And there are several Chamisul variants under the Jinro brand like Chamisul Fresh, Chamisul original, and more.
Now coming to the taste. The slightly-sweet, mild flavor is common to all of the Jinro Soju products.
I’ve noticed that the Fresh version was lighter but had a somewhat bitter taste to it. Also, there was almost no aroma to this Soju brand.
I actually liked that fact as other drinks with almost 17 percent alcohol can have a strong fragrance to them.
Anyhow, all the Soju products from Jinro go down very well. And they really affordably priced too.
However, you might have to pay extra if you’re buying this Korean brand in the US and places outside Korea.
Oh my gosh. So remember when I was raving about the alcohol content in the West 32 Soju?
Well, it’s been left several paces behind by this Andong brand of Soju. The alcohol content here is, wait for it… a whopping 35 percent.
Andong makes Soju purely from rice that is fermented for 15 days, unlike other brands that might use starchy vegetables as well.
And it nearly doubles the alcohol content found in common Soju brands like Jinro.
So when you are serving this Soju along with your meal remember not to use shot glasses. The Andong Soju has to sip in leisure or you’re going to get very drunk, very quickly.
I think I blacked out after taste-testing this one. But here’s what I remember.
Andong Soju has a clean, strong taste. It’s very old-fashioned in its approach to Soju. So there are no artificial sweeteners here.
You also won’t find the vodka-like aftertaste that most Soju’s leave behind on your tongue with this one.
This Soju is very strong and has a deep flavor.
To take a break from the strong, heavy taste of the Andong Soju, I thought I’ll try the Chum Churum brand.
In terms of alcohol content, it matches West 32 with an 18 percent alcoholic base.
But what I liked about Chum Churum is that it’s not as bitter as the West 32 brand.
The flavors are mild and very sweet. So it’s no wonder that a lot of young people have taken a liking to the drink.
Despite the sweetness, this Soju has a strong bite thanks to the addition of alkaline water.
So I suggest shaking it up a bit before opening the bottle.
This Soju brand comes under the larger company called Lotte Liquor. And they make use of both grains and rice to make the Soju.
Chum Churum originally had an alcohol content near to 19-20 percent. However, the company has lowered it a few years ago.
It’s hard to say if you’ll like the Chum Churum Soju. If you’re a purist, you’d better opt for Chamisul.
But if you’re a novice to Soju, it’s good to start with something sweet like this brand.
Okay so after tasting the sweet Chum Churum, I just had to find more flavored Sojus. That’s when I came across GoodDay.
The main selling point of the Goodday Soju brand is that they come in a variety of flavors. Grapefruit, lemon, pineapple – you name it, they’ve got it!
And these are YUMMY!
Yes, they don’t really have the sharp taste of Soju anymore. But I wasn’t really complaining.
Also, they claim to use mineral water from Korea’s Jirisan Mountain to make their Soju. So it already has an alkaline base to it.
After what was a Soju tasting marathon, I was really worried about the hangover that would surely be my prize later.
So then I tried the C1 Blue Soju to help mitigate some of its effects. Umm, what am I talking about?
Oh, just that the C1 Blue Soju doesn’t give you a hangover. At least that’s what it claims!
It has an ingredient called asparagine that is supposed to prevent the worst symptoms of a hangover from ever occurring. Genius, I say!
Another thing that makes this Soju brand stand out is the technique they use to age their Soju.
The process is called SOVIA or the Sound Vibration Aging Process. Also, they use water from the bedrocks of Mount Samgak in the Gijang region of Korea. So it’s got that alkaline fizz to it.
Like the Chum Churum Soju and Chamisul, the alcohol content of this brand rests at a comfortable 18 percent. Not too extreme like Andong and not too less.
I also liked the taste of this Soju, it feels very clean. And there’s no bitter aftertaste either, so the C1 Blue Soju is very easy to gulp down.
The best part about the C1 Blue soju is how easily it was available in the US.
What is the best Soju brand?
After much research on the taste, alcohol content, pricing, and other factors, I’ve decided that the Jinro Chamisul is the best Soju brand in the market today. It’s an authentic Korean brand of Soju, so you know you’ve got the real deal. It also has a strong but palatable taste and comes with an alcohol content of 17.9 percent.
Soju is super popular in South Korea. It’s always served with a Korean BBQ and can be seen as an accompaniment to most meals be it dinner or lunch.
There are several soju brands that claim to offer the smoother, chiller version of this drink.
But to be fair, unlike whisky or wines, Soju doesn’t have distinguishing features or technical specifications that make it good or bad or best.
The difference between the brands mostly lies in flavors available, pricing, and availability.
So at the end of the day, the best Soju is the one you enjoy with family and friends, no matter the brand. As that’s what Korea’s drinking culture is all about.