The Olympic Torch Journey Begins!
The 2018 Winter Olympics Torch has officially landed in Korea and begun its country-wide tour until lighting the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony on February 9th. So we got to thinking, although we can’t possibly follow the torch all over the peninsula for its 101-day journey, what kind of sool would we find along the way if we did?
There are hundreds of different makgeolli, cheongju, soju and fruit wines all across the country. But we asked ourselves one important question: if we happened to find ourselves in each stop of the Olympic torch relay, what brewery would we seek out? And so the idea was born that we would follow the Olympic Torch journey, profiling the kinds of sool we imagined ourselves to be drinking as we cheer on the Olympic flame. From the smaller artisans to the larger well-known brews, we will keep up to date as the torch makes its windy way throughout Korea. With the hard-working torch stopping at a staggering 76 stops, we will do our best to cherry pick some of our favourite brews from in and around these areas every Monday and Friday until the Opening Ceremony. So without further ado….Where in the Korea is the Olympic Torch?
Today the olympic torch is in idyllic Jeju! There are a number of brews Jeju is famous for including Jeju Makgeolli, Hallabong Makgeolli and of course Hallasan soju. But there is more to Jeju sool than just the widely promoted brews. Our first introduction to traditional sool in Jeju came in the form of Omaegi-sul, a cheongju available in Seoul and using a very specific type of nuruk. Its soju counterpart is called Gosori-sul and with a sharp and distinct aroma, it too has a place at the table. Both Omaegi-sul and Gosori-sul have a unique flavour and the brewery has a long and respected reputation, so we encourage anyone who comes across this brew to go ahead and give it a try. But while we would be happy to have those brews at our dinner table anytime, there is yet another sool we would hope to see at the completion of the first Olympic Torch leg.
Jeju Hanbadang (제주 한바당)
Jeju Hanbadang is a relatively new brew on the scene, just three years into the world of brewing. The head brewer moved to her husband’s hometown of Jeju for a slower pace after a lifetime in Seoul, and they decided to open a brewery. They produce two brews, a takju of 10% and a cheongju of 15% ABV each with a fermentation period of 100 days. After fermentation, the brews are aged in (clay pots) for three months to round out the balance of flavours. For all our keen brewing readers out there, Hanbadang uses 50% rice, 45% water, and 5% nuruk. So if we do the complicated math here, it means there are no percentages left for artificial sweeteners! Always on our radar is sool made using all natural ingredients, so it is heartening to see Hanbadang contributing to the world of quality brews.
If you’ve ever been to Jeju and noticed that all your Korean listening ability was for nought because the accents were so strong, know that you are not alone. The native Jeju dialect is so strong that native Korean speakers often have to strain an ear. It is a matter of pride and heritage so unique to Jeju that it became the inspiration for the name of Hanbadang. ‘Bada’ meaning sea is pronounced ‘Badang’ in Jejuian dialect, so the concept is the brews are as rich and plentiful as the sea itself, the imagery of which has us immediately running for the airport.
So the question on all your lips must be….can I get my hands on Hanbadang anywhere other than Jeju? While it has sporadically popped up at some of the best-stocked sool bars in Seoul, for the large part Hanbadang is just one more excuse to visit Jeju.
And so the first stop of the Olympic Torch will conclude, and tomorrow it heads for an epic tour of South Gyeongsan province. Tune in on Monday to see what brews from Busan would make our list for the Olympic Torch relay afterparty 🙂
Check our other Pyeonchang Olympics Sool Route stops:
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Julia is an Australian specialist in Korean Traditional Alcohol and has been involved in the makgeolli industry for over 6 years. She has been an activist for the promotion of Korean sool both locally and internationally after training at a number of institutes including Grand Master Park Rok Dam.