As promised, here’s a quick little write-up on the two traditional Korean liquors I bought at the Traditional Wine Museum in Jeonju a few weeks ago. Spoiler alert: non-fans of rice liquors need not apply.
The first, Rubicon Hongju, caught my eye with its striking, rose-like color. That turned out to be an apt impression, as this hongju (distilled rice liquor with an alcohol content about twice as high as the ever-present soju, about 40%) was flavored with violet roots, giving it a distinctly floral nose over the soju-like body. It was interesting, although not something I’d buy again as I’m not a big fan of the sharp alcohol flavor and slight funk of most rice liquors, be they soju, hongju, or Japanese sake. It did mix interestingly with pink lemonade, however.
The second, I Gangju, had a more interesting profile. It’s also a high alcohol content rice liquor, but one with a lot more flourishes as a royal concoction from Joseon Dynasty times. It’s flavored with pear, ginger, cinnamon, and honey, which once again were present in the initial taste as the liquor hits your mouth, only to be overpowered by the strong flavor of the rice liquor hitting like a train right after. The way to handle this one is Coke (also I also had interesting results with Orange NaziCola *Ahem* Fanta), which preserves and mixes well with the pleasing flavors of the fruit and spices while minimizing the unpleasant characteristics of the rice liquor.
As a special bonus, while I was prepping these liquors Jeonghee made us a couple of cocktails of French Vanilla Kahlua and banana milk. If you haven’t heard of the latter, it’s a simple yet divine beverage that’s exactly what it sounds like- banana flavored milk, and it made the perfect complement to the vanilla and coffee flavors of the Kahlua… basically a “Yellow Russian”. Perhaps I should work on that name a tad…