Soju (or shochu) is a traditional Korean distilled spirit that can be rather hard to find in the United States. That is changing with the release of brands like TY KU Soju, which is now being imported by the same company who recently released, soju-based TY KU Liqueur.
TY KU Soju is an interesting taste. While the spirit is typically compared to vodka, there is a slight element to this soju that is decidedly different, though it can easily replace vodka in cocktails. Also, this particular soju breaks from a couple of traditional soju characteristics.
TY KU Soju vs. Vodka
TY KU differs from other soju because it is distilled from barley and in Japan, not Korea. The reason for the barley likely has something to do with the shift from using rice to grains that occurred during a 1960s shortage of rice, during which more soju producers turned to alternatives.
For many drinkers in the world, vodka is a good comparison to soju. The barley is very noticeable in TY KU Soju and this profile gives it a flavor that is typically absent in vodkas. It is an interesting taste that is more like sake, but the higher alcohol content makes this soju stronger (still not as strong as vodka).
In the same fashion as vodka, this soju is also triple-distilled (though in a pot still). This may make it softer than single-distilled soju. Soju traditionalists may find this lightness unappealing. The use of white kōji also gives this soju a sweeter characteristic.
Drinking TY KU Soju
TY KU Soju is certainly a good alternative to vodka and can be used as a substitute in your favorite vodka cocktails. There is, however, a growing interest in soju-based cocktails because it has the ability that vodka doesn't to enhance fruits and other natural ingredients by absorbing the flavors into the spirit. Chocolate is another flavor that mixes surprisingly well with this soju. Unlike sake, if you are going to drink this straight, it is best chilled.
TY KU Soju holds a sweet, floral fragrance that leads to a smooth, clean flavor with nearly indistinguishable citrus and floral notes. The finish is as clean as sake and dry.
About TY KU Soju
- Japanese distilled spirit produced from barley and natural spring water that is distilled three times and cold filtered.
- 24 percent alcohol by volume (48 proof)
- Contains no sweeteners, preservatives, or additives.
- 68 calories per 1 1/2 ounces