A couple of weekends ago my running partner Star, of 87pages fame, invited me and a few other bloggers to an event being hosted at the Sool Gallery (전통주 갤러리) in Insadong. I’d gone with my dude a while ago, on Star’s recommendation, and we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, so I was looking forward to another trip.
The Sool Gallery is a small space within the government-sponsored Korea Craft & Design Foundation Gallery; it is a small basement-level space with cozy auditorium bench seating and alcohol-lined walls. The Sool Gallery’s focus is to inform customers — foreigners and locals alike — of the history of the four traditional Korean liquors: makgeolli (막걸리), yakju (약주), soju (소주), and traditional Korean wine. After a brief and very informative lesson, we were given the awesome opportunity to taste each type of alcohol.
Makgeolli is considered the freshest alcohol you can drink in Korea due to its short fermentation time (due to a desire to maintain the flavors). It’s cheap and consumed all over the country. It’s far and away my favorite type of alcohol to drink here. It typically has about 6-7% alcohol content.
The name for yakju is derived from the work yak (약), which is Korean for “medicine.” Made from steamed rice, it goes through several fermentation stages involving different aromatic herbs before it’s ready to drink.
Soju (소주) is far-and-away the most well-known Korean liquor. Directly translated it means “burning alcohol” (which should tell you something about the taste). It’s distilled during production, which helps it to retain its strong flavor. Most Koreans drink a more diluted version of soju, where the alcohol content rests between 12-15%, but the traditional soju is a lot stronger; the one that we got to taste had a whopping 40% alcohol content.
The traditional fruit wines are made with, naturally, different fruits and liquor. Some of the popular wines here are made from maesil plums or raspberries (bokbunja). The sample that we had was quite dry, with an alcohol content of 12%.
What’s the best thing about these events? They’re free. That’s right: they are free.99. The only thing is that you have to make a reservation to go in advance, typically by email; from there they ask your nationality and set up a time for you, presumably so that they’ll have someone there who can properly explain the different liquors in your preferred language.
Currently, the Sool Gallery is located in Insadong, but I was told that the gallery will soon move to a bigger space somewhere in the Gangnam area.
If you’re ever in Seoul (and you’re international age 19 and over), this is a place you don’t want to leave off of your must-do list! Many thanks to The Sool Gallery for having us, and to Star for organizing yet another fun event!
전통주 갤러리 – The Sool Gallery
8, Insadong 11-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Open: Tuesday ~ Sunday, 10am ~ 6pm
Tasting Times: 1pm, 3pm, 5pm
For tasting reservations, e-mail: email@example.com
The Sool Gallery Facebook Page
9 thoughts on “Explore Seoul: The Sool Gallery (전통주 갤러리)”
gallery looks so traditional of seoul and i love the quiet and calm of the place. the art here is so lovely too.must be a wonderful experience for anyone who visits.
I would love to visit. It is one of those places in the world that you know you just really want to visit and take in all the culture and traditions.
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Such a fab experience. I defo want to do this when I visit Seoul. Is the legal drinking age over 19 ? How much does it cost?
Yep! It’s Korean age 20, so international age 19. The tasting is absolutely free (just reserve your space)!
It is one of those places that are in my bucket list and I really wish to visit them. Seoul has never occurred to me as a fun place and I am glad that I read this post.
Oh wow this would be such a neat cultural experience! I would love to try the Korean wine and the fresh alcohol.
Wow! That is a grand place to be hosted. I don’t take liquors but I definitely liked the presentation here. I can suggest this to my friends in Seoul.
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Whoa I would like to visit this place soon when I visit Seoul this summer 🙂 Im excited!
Seoul has been on my list for so long, will definitely add this to the list when I visit. That place looks amazing and would love to try their drinks.
xx, Kusum | http://www.sveeteskapes.com