In an age of information and any part of the world feeling obtainable (even virtually), the fact many of us may not have heard of or tasted Soju is baffling, to say the least.
This flavourless clear spirit originates from Korea and is traditionally made from rice. It is around 20% in alcohol volume and so although it may look and potentially even taste like your favourite vodka, it is, in fact, a little weaker which makes for shooting it just that bit easier. That being said, the Koreans are no light drinkers, on average they are taking 13.7 shots of liquor a week, by far the most in the world!
Interestingly enough, Soju is traditionally made from rice and grains, however, between 1960 and 1990, the production of Soju with rice was banned due to a shortage and so producers looked too similar starches such as sweet potato and tapioca to create the spirit. Once production with rice was allowed again, many of the Soju brands had already perfected their new recipe and so did not look to change back.
One of the unique parts of the Soju story is the number of rituals that surround the way it must be consumed. Normally, it is drunk with food, but you must not pour your own drink, allowing another person to pour you a shot and then using both your hands to drink. More so, if somebody is looking to shoot their drink, they must not be allowed to do so alone and the whole group must drink with them. You can see how quickly a quiet night can turn into a rather eventful one.
In more recent times, certain distillers and producers have looked to create fruit flavoured Soju to make it more appealing to younger and foreign audiences including Watermelon, Blueberry and even Lemon. Words perhaps will not do this justice, so here is a Buzzfeed video of some people trying these wonderful flavours