I Tried Every Bottle of Makgeolli at H Mart — These Are the Ones Worth Drinking

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group of bottles of various brands of Makgeolli

Credit: Irene Yoo

You whitethorn cognize of soju, nan greenish bottled clear liquor often recovered astatine Korean barbecue restaurants, but person you heard of makgeolli? Makgeolli is Korea’s original alcohol, a farmer’s liquor that was easy made astatine location by simply fermenting rice, nuruk (a chaotic fermentation starter), and water. It’s fermented successful conscionable a week aliases 2 and fresh to portion aft a ray filtration. 

Home-brewed aliases small-batch brewed makgeolli are usually unpasteurized to sphere nan chaotic fermentation, which successful move makes for a short support life. Thus, astir makgeolli recovered astatine supermarkets for illustration H Mart are pasteurized to guarantee they tin beryllium shipped astatine room somesthesia and kept shelf-stable. You’ll conscionable request to chill nan makgeolli anterior to drinking.

When you’re fresh to portion makgeolli is erstwhile nan nosy really starts. Traditionally, makgeolli is served successful a copper-colored aluminum beverage kettle that is portioned into copper-aluminum atom bowls. Drinking retired of these wider serving vessels alternatively than glasses allows nan scent of nan makgeolli to really unfastened up, arsenic good arsenic paying homage to nan atom origins of nan drink.

  • Most Classic Tasting: Walmae Rice Wine
  • Most Fizzy: Kooksoondang Draft Makgeolli
  • Most Well-Balanced: Makku Makgeolli

Even if you’re not serving retired of kettles and bowls, you’ll person to workout a spot of musculus earlier imbibing. Because makgeolli is loosely filtered, a adjacent magnitude of good atom particles remain, giving nan portion its iconic cloudy texture. When it’s been sitting for a while this sediment tin separate, truthful you’ll conscionable request to shingle nan makgeolli vessel lightly to operation it each up. Or don’t! Some Koreans for illustration to portion conscionable nan separated clear liquid, called cheongju, for a lighter and much refined flavor. I personally for illustration incorporating nan sediment into nan makgeolli (called takju) — nan resulting creaminess is what sets makgeolli isolated from immoderate different liquor.

Don’t hide to group nan array erstwhile having makgeolli arsenic well. This portion is made for eating! The astir classical pairing is makgeolli and jeon, aliases fried pancakes aliases fritters. The combo is incredibly nostalgic for Koreans connected rainy days because nan pitter patter of nan rainfall recalls nan sizzle of frying oil. But nan 2 besides sensation awesome together, arsenic nan soft milkiness of makgeolli rounds retired nan pleasant greasiness of nan jeon. Other awesome pairings? Makgeolli and pork belly are besides iconic, arsenic good arsenic immoderate spicy marinated meats that you mightiness beryllium craving!

Makgeolli is specified an important intoxicant successful Korean culture, truthful I emotion that H Mart has been carrying much varieties of it. It’s besides little ABV than soju, truthful it’s much readily recovered astatine H Marts that don’t transportation soju aliases different liquors owed to authorities restrictions. But I ever get truthful overwhelmed by each nan options. Which 1 is nan best? Should I spot nan labels connected nan bottles? I bought each six of nan makgeolli bottles disposable astatine my section New York H Mart and tasted them 1 nighttime to comparison against each different (note that options whitethorn alteration shop to store). These are nan 3 I loved and nan 3 I would bargain again.

3 Best Bottles of Makgeolli

Credit: Irene Yoo

Most Classic Tasting: Walmae Rice Wine, $5.99 for 1 liter

I haven’t seen Walmae often astatine nan market store, and it instantly sets itself isolated by being sold successful one-liter bottles versus nan 750-milliliter bottles of nan different brands. It’s a pasteurized type of Jangsu Makgeolli, a caller makgeolli that’s been made for complete 60 years. 

Immediately, Walmae has much spirit than immoderate of nan different makgeollis. It has a somewhat milky smell, and tastes much creamy, yogurty, and fizzy. Surprisingly, it’s besides much savory and tart than it is sweet, which is simply a trait I for illustration successful makgeolli. Oftentimes, a batch of makgeolli (especially supermarket brands) person a batch of sweetener added, truthful it’s bully to sensation thing that’s much milky and smooth. It has much of nan classical makgeolli sensation that I’m looking for, truthful I’ll decidedly beryllium stocking up connected this for my Chuseok party adjacent year.

Credit: Irene Yoo

Most Fizzy: Kooksoondang Draft Makgeolli, $3.99 for 750 mL

Kooksoondang is nan different of nan 2 long-standing makgeolli offered astatine H Mart, and it’s nan only 1 connected this database that is unpasteurized. Therefore, it’s shipped and stored chilled astatine each times, versus being kept pinch nan different drinks that don’t require refrigeration. 

It was harder to get nan makgeolli mixed successful for this bottle; I really had to springiness it a fewer shakes backmost and distant to dislodge nan sediment from nan bottom. That besides made it highly carbonated! Kooksoondang was very fizzy and much citrusy, almost for illustration a fermented milky soda akin to Yakult aliases Milkis. The spirit was bully and tart, pinch savory after-notes that would make this 1 brace really good pinch jeon.

Credit: Irene Yoo

Most Well-Balanced: Makku Makgeolli, $5.99 for 750 mL

Full disclosure: I utilized to activity for this company! Makku is simply a Korean American marque based retired of New York, but nan makgeolli is produced and imported from Korea. It’s been a spot since I’ve had it, and I’m reminded of why I liked it nan first clip I tried it.

Makku smells pleasantly fermented and tastes some saccharine and lactic-y. Overall, it’s rather well-balanced, particularly aft having tasted a wide assortment of makgeolli that ranged from bland to sour. It has a bully decorativeness that isn’t chalky arsenic well, making it a bully crushable makgeolli — cleanable for parties.

3 Makgeolli You Should Skip

Credit: Irene Yoo

Too Light: Bohae Soony Makgeolli, $10 for 3 (750-mL) bottles

Soony is 1 of nan 2 classical supermarket brands of makgeolli I’ve seen for years astatine H Mart. The point that ever makes maine LOL astir its Korean explanation is that it advertises that nan makgeolli is pasteurized. I deliberation it’s a measurement to convey that nan makgeolli is very soft and light, thing reinforced by nan brand’s sanction itself, which sounds akin to nan Korean connection for “gentle.” 

Upon opening (after shaking), Soony Makgeolli is ray and not very carbonated aliases thick. It has a sharper chemoreceptor wherever you tin smell nan fermented rice. The makgeolli tastes bladed too, pinch a flimsy fizz connected nan lingua but finishes a spot chalky. While immoderate tartness and sweetness lingers, this 1 is simply a spot excessively mild, connected nan verge of tasting bland. I deliberation this 1 is simply a bully prime if you for illustration a lighter makgeolli, but it lacked spirit for me.

Credit: Irene Yoo

Too Chalky: Gyeongju Beopju Makgeolli, $3.99 for 750 mL

I’ve seen this 1 much successful caller years, and was drawn to buying it for my caller Chuseok statement because it hails from Gyeongju, a famously humanities metropolis successful South Korea. In Korea, this makgeolli is specifically marketed arsenic being capable to beryllium enjoyed 2 ways: first by pouring conscionable nan clear liquid to portion arsenic cheongju, and past shaking it up halfway done to person arsenic makgeolli.

I skipped consecutive to nan makgeolli portion by mixing nan vessel earlier drinking, and it is overmuch thicker than nan Soony Makgeolli. It smells and tastes somewhat saccharine and fizzy, but besides finishes chalky. Ultimately it doesn’t sensation for illustration much. If anything, Gyeongju Beopju Makgeolli has a spot of a chemic spirit that grows nan much I portion it, which is not ace pleasing.

Credit: Irene Yoo

Too Sour: 100 Billion Prebiotic Wine, $7.99 for 750 mL

This makgeolli is besides produced by Kooksoondang, and advertises itself arsenic including 100 cardinal prebiotics. It’s besides nan only makgeolli connected nan database that is 5% ABV; each nan others are 6%. 

It’s not arsenic fizzy arsenic nan Kooksoondang Draft Makgeolli, but it’s decidedly incredibly funky successful a measurement that I person ne'er smelled successful a makgeolli (and not needfully ace pleasant?). The spirit leans dense connected lactic acerb and yogurt and gets sweeter nan much you portion it and get utilized to nan sour smell. This 1 feels a small much gimmicky — particularly astatine nan higher value point.

Did your favourite make nan list? Tell america astir it successful nan comments below.