Traditional Liquor Gallery
location: 51-20 Korean Traditional Food Culture Center on Teheran-ro 5-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (06129)
Price : free
The Traditional Liquor Gallery was established by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corporation to promote the taste and cultural values of Korean traditional liquors. The gallery is holding a permanent display of traditional liquors, tasting programs, and seminars on traditional liquors in order to play the role of a bridge between traditional liquor breweries and consumers. Among these options, I would like to introduce a regular tasting program for all those who do not know much about traditional liquors, like foreign tourists, and traditional liquor lovers.
The regular tasting program at the Traditional Liquor Gallery is operated on a reservation system and runs four times (1 pm, 3 pm 5 pm, and 7 pm) a day except for Monday. The limit is up to 15 people every time and it is free of charge. The regular tasting program selects "the traditional liquor of the month" every month and introduces four or five kinds of traditional liquors on different themes and offers tasting opportunities to participants. The Gachon Herald reporters attended this tasting at 7 p.m on Tuesday, April 2nd, to learn about traditional liquors.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >
The regular tasting begins with listening to stories about traditional liquors. Unlike Japan, whose ancestors drank liquors only in the winter, our ancestors enjoyed liquors all four seasons, so there are various kinds of liquor. One representative liquor was introduced in each season, and the story of that liquor was told. For example, the ancestors drank a liquor called ‘Dosoju’ in winter, which was made by boiling Makgeolli or Yakju in a pot. Dosoju was enjoyed by everyone, from children to the elderly, on the day of the first full moon of the lunar year or on the New Year’s Day. When people drank Dosoju, young children usually drank it first and the adults afterwards. The reason can be found in the meaning of the name of the liquor. The word ‘Do’ means ‘catch’, ‘So’ means‘evil energy’, and "Ju" means ‘alcohol’. So Dosoju is a liquor to catch the evil energy. That is why our ancestors had the young and weak children first drink. They hoped that children could get rid of bad energy and grow up well.
Next, explanations on the different types of traditional liquors were given. Traditional liquors are classified into four categories: Takju, Yakju, traditional soju and Korean wine. First, Takju is often known as makgeolli, which is brewed to a cloudy or murky consistency. Makgeolli whose meaning is a just-brewed liquor is very fresh. It is characterized by heavy texture and murkiness. Second, "Yakju" means that it can be drunk like a medicine and is as precious as a medicine. "Yakju" is made by ripening the clear part of makgeolli. Various scents and flavors are generated from the type of medicinal substances that are put into Yakju during ripening. The third is traditional soju. Often soju reminds us of a familiar green bottle. But soju, which we frequently drink, is not a traditional liquor. There is a big difference between traditional soju and soju on the market. Unlike ordinary soju, traditional soju is made through the distilling process. Traditional soju is quite expensive because several bottles of Takju and Yakjuhave are needed to be distilled into making a single traditional soju. The last liquor to introduce is Korean wine. Currently, more than 200 different kinds of wines are produced in Korea. Each has a unique charm by using different local products such as apple wine, omija wine, strawberry wine and persimmon wine.
Afters the introduction of traditional liquors, we gathered at a standing bar in the center of the gallery and tasted samples of traditional liquor of the month. The theme of April was ‘Warm spring sunshine, liquor of spring flavor’; five drinks were prepared; Takju ‘Song Myeong-sup Makgeolli’ and ‘Black Bean Makgeolli,’ Yakju ‘Chungmyeongju’, traditional soju ‘Juknyeokko,’ and Korean wine ‘Yeopo's Dream’. Before tasting, I was able to hear a story about each drink from the staff. The first liquor introduced was ‘Song Myeong-sup Makgeolli’ and ‘Black Bean Makgeolli.’ The two Takjus are very different from ordinary makgeolli. Song Myeong-sup makgeolli tasted much drier and thicker than ordinary makgeolli. ‘Black Bean Makgeolli’ smelled like black beans and tasted like soy milk as its name suggests. Next was Chungmyeongju. It was sweet and sour because glutinous rice is the main ingredient. Then, I tasted ‘Juknyeokko’, one of the three masterpieces of Joseon. Juknyeokko is very hard liquor and the taste and smell are so strong due to the ingredients like bamboo and medicinal herbs. Lastly, ‘Yeopo's Dream’ is a white wine that has a delicate scent of green grapes. All the reporters were satisfied with its sweet taste and refreshing aroma of grapes. After drinking all these, the tasting was over. Participants can freely watch the drinks displayed or ask additional questions. Participants were given tasting notes that introduced monthly themes and liquors. On the back of this tasting note, there is a space for stamps. Every month you attend, you can get a stamp. The gallery offers a variety of gifts whenever you get a stamp on the note.
Compared to our usual liquors, traditional liquors are much harder to experience. Also, the word 'traditional liquor' itself makes a feeling of distance. Recently, however, traditional liquor is trying to get closer to people, especially younger people. Why don't you get interested in our traditional drinks which contain a variety of flavors and special stories? How about visiting the traditional liquor gallery in which you can experience a variety of drinks. changing your perception, and falling into a new world of taste.