Hot off the heels of a tour through the beautiful island of Jindo, the Olympic Torch made its way through the region of Damyang famous for their abundance of bamboo.
If you find yourself in the Damyang region, you’ll begin to notice just how different it is from many other regions of Korea. Plenty of forests abound with towering trees and green vistas, and just about every incarnation of bamboo you can imagine. There are quite a few types of sool in the Jeollanam-do region that feature bamboo in one way or another, but there is one particular soju that doesn’t get a lot of airplay that we are huge fans of.
Quite an unusual name for a Korean traditional sool, Tamiangs derives its name from the French pronunciation of the town Damyang. That quirkiness aside, Tamiangs is a generational recipe that has been passed down for over 120 years and follows traditional brewing methods. As a soju, the base alcohol of rice and nuruk is fermented for 100 days, and distilled in the old-school method of soju-gori. It is also infused with 13 different ‘Hanyak’ or Korean traditional medicinal ingredients, such as jicho, omija and of course bamboo.
It takes a very long time to make Tamiangs so they only make 1,000 bottles a year, but it certainly has made an impression internationally. Winning a double gold in the soju category of the 2014 World Spirits Competition in San Francisco, Tamiangs is known for its powerful aroma and smooth finish.
The brewery also produces a line of bamboo infused cheongju known as Daeip-sool or Daetong Daeip-sool, which are much more commonly available and have a strong earthy aroma and light body. As Daetong Daeip-sool comes in a long wide bamboo bottle, it makes for a very dramatic table piece!
The good news is that Tamiangs is one of the few top shelf sojus that are reasonably accessible. It can be sourced online, or if you find yourself in some of the larger Lotte Department Store wine sections you might be lucky to find it on the shelves. Stay tuned for the next stop on our torch’s journey….Iksan!
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.