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[Weekender] Where to experience traditional Korean liquor hands-on

For those eager to learn about the history and making of traditional Korean alcohol, Seoul has a number of places dedicated to showcasing local liquor.

One such place is The Sool Gallery, nestled in Seoul’s traditional neighborhood and tourist hotspot of Insa-dong.

Visitors can try various traditional liquors at The Sool Gallery in Insa-dong, Seoul. (Official Facebook)
Visitors can try various traditional liquors at The Sool Gallery in Insa-dong, Seoul. (Official Facebook)

The Sool Gallery is a traditional Korean liquor exhibition and tasting room that opened its doors last year. Catering largely to tourists and foreign travelers, the gallery provides educational programs about traditional drinks run by experts in Korean liquor.

The programs are designed to provide foreign drinkers with a strong platform to learn about traditional alcohol and taste Korean liquor. A reservation is required to participate in the education programs and liquor tasting. The topic of the programs presented at the gallery changes every month.

However, advanced booking is not required for those who just wish to browse the exhibition hall. Entry to the exhibition hall as well as sample tastings are offered free of charge. 

(From left) Dongdongju, gukhwaju and gamhongro offered at Korea Studio Sool, located in Nokbeon-dong, Seoul (Official Facebook)
(From left) Dongdongju, gukhwaju and gamhongro offered at Korea Studio Sool, located in Nokbeon-dong, Seoul (Official Facebook)

Korea Studio Sool in Jongno has also started its initiative to popularize traditional alcohol by providing classes where eager students can learn traditional brewing techniques.

A visit to Korea Studio Sool provides participants with the special opportunity to brew various traditional liquor using purely natural ingredients such as rice, wild yeast, water, flowers and herbs, with zero chemical additives. The long-term fermentation process is what gives the beverages their rich aroma and robust flavors. 

Exterior of Daegang Brewery, located in North Chungcheong Province (Courtesy of Daegang Brewery)
Exterior of Daegang Brewery, located in North Chungcheong Province (Courtesy of Daegang Brewery)

Studio visitors can learn, brew and experience Korean traditional liquor including the various tools that were used to brew these liquor in the old days; the fermentation and aging process; as well as getting the rare opportunity to see samples of home-brewed Korean liquor that have been discontinued since the Japanese colonial era along with other liquor that are mentioned in old literature.

Other locations outside of Seoul where one can be immersed in the history of making of Korean liquor include the Sanmeoru Farm in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, as well as Daegang Brewery in North Chungcheong Province.

By Julie Jackson (juliejackson@heraldcorp.com)
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