7 Best Soju Brands To Get Excited About | Drinks Geek (2024)

There is no arguing: Korean culture is a worldwide phenomenon, and so is its signature spirit, soju. This clear rice alcohol has taken the world by storm, and by volume alone, soju beats competitors such as vodka or gin. So, what are the most popular Korean soju brands?

Typically, any great soju is smooth, clean, and fresh. As an introduction, Jinro Chamisul Fresh Soju is the best soju for beginners; it’s an easy-to-drink soju with a clean finish. Hwayo Soju is an excellent high-proof alternative if you fancy something that kick’s like a mule.

In a hurry?Jump straight to my top pick soju

Table Of Contents

  1. What Is Soju?
  2. What Does Soju Taste Like?
  3. How Is Soju Made?
  4. Best Soju Brands
    • 1. Jinro Chamisul Fresh Soju
    • 2. Lotte Chum Churum Original Soju
    • 3. Hwayo 41 Soju
    • 4. Hemosu Ginseng Soju
    • 5. West 32 Soju
    • 6. Good Day Peach Soju
    • 7. Andong Soju
  5. Ingrid’s Top Pick
    • Jinro Chamisul Fresh Soju
  6. Conclusion
  7. Further Reading
7 Best Soju Brands To Get Excited About | Drinks Geek (1)

What Is Soju?

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Soju is a clear Korean spirit, similar to vodka. However, its alcohol percentage is far lower, ranging widely between 10% to 60%, so it burns less and is easier to sip. Thanks to its wide variety of flavours, low cost, and effective marketing, soju is the world’s most consumed alcohol.

Also read: History Of Soju:Tracing the Roots of Korea’s National Drink

What Does Soju Taste Like?

Soju is often sweet, slightly fruity and floral with a nice burn of spirit on the finish. Unlike most pure spirits, such as gin or vodka, soju’s taste varies widely. Depending on their chosen ingredients, distillers can produce hundreds of different aromas and taste notes.

How Is Soju Made?

Traditionally, Korean distillers made soju from rice starch. Today, that’s no longer always the case, and you can find soju that uses all types of starch, such as sweet potato. Producers ferment the starch with yeast and enzymes and then distil it to their desired ABV, typically about 20%.

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Best Soju Brands

Thanks to soju’s recent boom in popularity, you can now find this Korean spirit in stores worldwide. Not all soju’s are equal, so I’ve selected the best soju brands to get acquainted with.

1. Jinro Chamisul Fresh Soju

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Overview

  • Distiller: Hite Jinro
  • ABV: 16.5% (33 Proof)
  • Country: South Korea
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Jinro is the largest soju brand, and that’s for a good reason. Their modern soju’s are excellent – smooth, clean, and fresh. There isn’t a better choice than their flagship product, Chamisul Fresh Soju.

This soju uses rice and a unique bamboo charcoal filtration technique, making it far cleaner than the competition. While flavoured versions are available, I can’t help but recommend the Chamisul.

Fresh style for its incredibly crisp taste. It goes down quickly and is also perfect for mixing into co*cktails. Chamisul Fresh Soju has a soft, clean finish at 16.5% ABV.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

2. Lotte Chum Churum Original Soju

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Overview

  • Distiller: LOTTE Chilsung Beverage
  • ABV: 17% (34 Proof)
  • Country: South Korea
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Since 1950, Lotte has been providing Korea and beyond with high-quality soju. Their standout product is the magnificent Chum Churum Original Soju.

Lotte’s Original Soju is a 17% ABV spirit with delicious pear and ginger aromas, which develop into a fruity ginger and jasmine taste. Like all good soju, Chum Churum Original is clear and sweet.

You’ll enjoy this grain and rice soju the most by drinking it neat, but it’s a decent mixer, too. For a food flavour pairing, try it with your next order of Korean barbecue.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

3. Hwayo 41 Soju

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Overview

  • Distiller: Hwayo
  • ABV: 41% (82 Proof)
  • Country: South Korea
  • Colour: Clear

Review

If you’re looking for a premium soju to impress friends, family, colleagues, and fellow Korea-lovers, look no further than Hwayo.

This brand is owned by Kwangjuyo and prides itself on producing artisanal soju in beautiful ceramic bottles. So, when you buy Hwayo, you don’t just buy a drink… you buy a piece of art.

This soju is no slouch in the taste department, either. Instead, Hwayo Soju is among the best high-proof soju in the West. Their products have an intense but well-balanced taste that highlights the flavour and aroma of Korean rice.

Although a 17% variety is available, I recommend Hwayo’s 41% or 53% ABV soju. These rice spirits are excellent to sip neat but feel welcome to enjoy them on the rocks, too, and they’re also an interesting digestif.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

4. Hemosu Ginseng Soju

Overview

  • Distiller: Hemosu Co
  • ABV: 40% (80 Proof)
  • Country: South Korea
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Hemosu uses a centuries-old family recipe, locally sourced rice, and water from an underground spring to deliver uniquely delicious soju. This 40% ABV ginseng variety has been gaining in popularity.

While ginseng might seem like a strange addition at first, it highlights the greatness of soju. Thanks to flexible Korean standards, distillers have thousands of choices of flavouring and crafting their soju.

On the nose, Hemosu Ginseng Soju gives a fresh burst of its namesake root, still visible inside the bottle. This flavour develops on the palate with rich, gentle, earthy oak and ginseng notes.

Enjoy this soju on the rocks in cold weather for the best results.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

5. West 32 Soju

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Overview

  • Distiller: West 32
  • ABV: 19.9% (38.9 Proof)
  • Country: USA
  • Colour: Clear

Review

For a distinctly American twist on this famous Korean liquor, try West 32. This Korean-American distillery is based in NYC and uses only New York’s finest corn.

It’s a consistent prize winner in American spirit competitions, and it isn’t hard to see why.

West 32 Soju has no artificial sweeteners or gluten, so don’t feel guilty about having another bottle. It’s also perfect for co*cktails since it is only 20% with a soft, neutral taste. However, West 32 also recommends you try it alongside spicy barbecue, and I agree; their soju is crisp and refreshing.

Not only that but give their Reserve Soju a shot, too. West 32 ages this soju in white oak whisky barrels for six months, giving it a unique golden hue and bourbon flavour notes, and it’s ideal on the rocks.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

6. Good Day Peach Soju

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Overview

  • Distiller: Muhak
  • ABV: 13.5% (27 Proof)
  • Country: South Korea
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Good Day Peach Soju is one of the many popular flavoured soju from South Korea. It is made with fermented rice and peach extract and has a sweet, refreshing flavour.

I like the fact that the peach flavour is not too sweet, and it complements the rice base well. The alcohol content is 13.5%, so low enough that it is nice and easy to drink, but the alcohol is still noticeable.

Good Day Peach Soju is best enjoyed chilled. I recommend it’s served neat, on the rocks, to get the most from the smooth peach flavours.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

7. Andong Soju

7 Best Soju Brands To Get Excited About | Drinks Geek (10)

Overview

  • Distiller: Andong Soju
  • ABV: 45% (90 Proof)
  • Country: South Korea
  • Colour: Clear

Review

Andong Soju stands out from the crowd using ancient, traditional distillation methods. Koreans first started brewing soju during the Mongol invasion of the 13th Century, and the Andong company has stayed true to the initial, potent, and delectable recipes.

This soju boasts a soft scent and subtle flavour, using only homegrown Korean rice and natural rock water. Enjoy it neat, with classic Korean starters.

Lastly, Andong Soju comes in a gorgeous porcelain bottle that speaks to the beautiful history of Korea and its premier spirit. I was almost disappointed to have to open that stunning bottle to get at the soju.

Pricing & Info

You can check the latest pricing, product information, and order online.

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Ingrid’s Top Pick

7 Best Soju Brands To Get Excited About | Drinks Geek (12)

Jinro Chamisul Fresh Soju

Jinro Chamisul Fresh Soju is my top pick due to its authentic, smooth, clean and fresh soju taste, plus its ease of purchase globally.

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Conclusion

To conclude, the world of soju is undoubtedly remarkable, and here are some shining examples of what to check out. If you’re looking for the best soju brands, your options are nearly limitless. However, I recommend Jinro for a modern, low-proof option and Hwayo 41 for that classic, high-proof taste.

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Further Reading

Below are some additional articles from The Drinks Geek blog. We write articles on several fascinating areas of drinks, including different brands, drink types, co*cktail recipes and more.

Our team provides a worldwide drinks review service to assist our readers from every country make informed drinks purchasing decisions for events, parties, gifts, or simply enjoying at home.

Our primary audience is from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Europe, although we have readers from as far away as Mauritius!

7 Best Soju Brands To Get Excited About | Drinks Geek (2024)

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