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S. Jeolla-based Soju Wins Tasting Competition

Posted June. 21, 2010 12:56,   


“Ipsaeju,” a type of the traditional Korean spirit soju with an alcohol by volume of 19.5 percent and produced in Bohae, South Jeolla Province, has won a tasting competition for soju.

The tasting event for traditional Korean alcohol was held at the College of Hotel and Tourism Management at Kyung Hee University in Seoul June 5.

Forty-three well-known sommeliers in Korea and representatives from the traditional alcohol industry gathered in a classroom reserved for the event. On each table for two, 11 paper cups and a large cup to be used to spit out the drink after tasting were placed.

Eleven types of soju with high market shares in Korea were contained in the 11 cups with covers on them.

As part of the 12th Wine Sommelier International Academic Symposium hosted by the Korea International Sommelier Association, the event had sommeliers discern the taste of each soju through blind taste tests. They smelled and checked the color of each soju from the lowest alcohol by volume to the highest, then tasted each drink.

Just like in wine tasting, they held the soju in their mouths for a while without swallowing and spit it out afterward. They gradually felt the taste, scent and aftertaste, and based on tasting, they filled out an evaluation card with four categories – color, scent, taste and aftertaste – awarding up to 30 points.

Specifically, five points were allocated to the color category depending on impurities and complete transparency, and 10 points were given in the scent category for a distracting smell and feeling of refreshment. Soju with no unpleasantness in drinking or bad aftertaste received the highest score of 10, and the maximum score of five went to soju with a refreshing aftertaste.

Sommeliers seemed more serious with soju than with wine. The 43 participants handed in their scorecards after the hour-long event was over.

The final score excluded categories with the highest and the lowest score. The aggregate score of the 41 participants, excluding two sommeliers who gave the highest and the lowest score for each category, was 1,230 points.

“Ipsaeju” won the competition with 871 points, followed by “White Soju (19.9 percent)” of Muhak in South Gyeongsang Province with 852 points and “Cheoeumcheoreom Cool (16.8 percent)” manufactured by Lotte in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province with 851 points.

“San Soju (Gangwon Province, Lotte)” came in fourth with 843 points and “Chamisul Fresh (Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, Jinro)” fifth with 833 points.

Kwon Jin-hyeok, who was a judge at the competition, said, “I really love wine and this is why I’ve been a sommelier for five years. This is the first time I’ve participated in a soju tasting event. It was difficult to evaluate them since they all had a similar color and taste. Nevertheless, there were subtle differences depending on water type, additives and alcohol by volume.

“I gave the highest score to the one that was pleasant without too much irritation when I drank it.”