While there may be no rest for the Olympic Torch on such a busy schedule, it means it can be tough for us at The Sool Company to keep up! Nevertheless we are committed to deliver on our promise, so let’s take a look back at where the torch was last week.
The beautiful island of Jindo is usually on people’s lips for reasons other than sool. The Jindo dog (진도개) is the iconic dog breed of Korea with its proud stance and gentle nature. Or perhaps we talk about Jindo because of the sea parting festival that happens every year, which is an incredible natural phenomenon that has biblical undertones with the way the sea recedes allowing you to walk on the exposed seabed. Whatever the reason, Jindo is often on the radar for tourists and residents looking for a getaway from the hasty hustle of daily life.
But Jindo is also famous for a very unique kind of sool that simply cannot be overlooked for its vibrant red hue.
Jindo Hongju (진도 홍주)
Now this is a sool that stands out for obvious reasons, calling to you from across the room with a luminescent red glow. While most Korean alcohols fall in the milky white or crystal clear colour spectrum, to have a sool that is so brightly coloured might seem unusual. But in fact Jindo Hongju and its bright red appearance is a tradition that goes back thousands of years to the Goreyo Dynasty.
It is of course a soju which has been distilled from a base alcohol made from rice and nuruk. But what makes Jindo Hongju special is the method with which they infuse the ingredient which gives it such vibrancy. As the distillate comes dripping out of the traditional distillation equipment known as soju gori, it passes through a root called Jicho. Jicho is a medicinal herb that has been used in the area for centuries, known for detoxifying properties and other health benefits.
Originally reserved for the Kings and noble class, Jindo Hongju is considered one of the finest quality drinks in the Korean sool pantheon. But it’s important to note, that not all Hongjus are the same! You might find yourself faced with a choice between a number of different bottles containing the bright red nectar, and that is because there are quite a few options. In the same way that Andong produces many versions of ‘Andong Soju’, simply being produced in the region earns the title ‘Jindo Hongju’.
Arguably the most popular and well-known producer is Daedaero Jindo Hongju. It has one a number of awards internationally and was the official Blue House sool in 2004. The distinct characteristics of Hongju is that despite the high alcohol content of 40%, it has a smooth and clean flavour…..and reportedly produces no hangover! That has inspired us to road-test the validity of such a claim, so we will keep you all posted 🙂 In the meantime, stay tuned to the next stop on the Sool Pyeonchang Olympics Route where we see what’s good in Damyang!
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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.