Soju is the most popular alcoholic beverage in the world, and its popularity in Korea is unlike anything I’ve seen before.
You’ll find its distinctive green bottles at every convenience store, on the table at every Korean restaurant, and resting beside a passed out Korean on almost every street corner. Soju (and drinking in general) is a huge part of Korean culture.
If you ask me, soju tastes a lot like watered down vodka, and its original “flavours” are pretty hard to swallow. It is also pretty lethal stuff which famously gives you an awful hangover.
But there’s a reason it’s so popular with Koreans and foreigners alike. Soju is strong (about 13%), incredibly cheap (a bottle costs about £1/$1.50) and super fun to try while you’re here. It’s all about embracing the local culture, right?
Thankfully, there are a variety of different flavours to try too – some of which taste better than others. I ventured out to buy as many varieties I could find – there were 8 in total – and got some friends together to carry out a very scientific and not at all tipsy taste test.
Here is a definitive ranking of all the soju varieties I could get my hands on, from worst to best.
The classic. The original. The horrific. This “fresh” soju seems to be the most popular variety in restaurants and we have no idea why.
It’s strong. It’s sharp. It’s definitely the worst soju “flavour”.
Natalie: “Unlike other sojus, you actually feel like you’re drinking alcohol.”
This “blueberry” is clearly having some sort of identity crisis because it tastes overwhelmingly of grape, a popular flavour in Korea and seemingly nowhere else.
Blueberry soju is, to put it bluntly, not very nice. It’s drinkable but only in small quantities.
Sisa: “It’s like drinking perfume.”
And here we have the real, less fraudulent grape flavour. Somehow, it tastes better than the confused blueberry, though still a lot like grape.
It does what it says on the tin, I suppose.
Jamie: “It tastes like your Nan’s bubble bath.”
Let me just get into my connoisseur mode… the overwhelming aromas of pomegranate soju are soap, artificial sweeteners and Starburst. Hardly a dream combo, but for a soju, pomegranate isn’t too bad.
Although, it does get worse the more you drink it.
Sisa: “It tastes like kids’ medication.”
Wow. What a drink. I can’t fault it. Tropical “soju” tastes like a summer’s day. Is there even any alcohol in it?
Basically no – it’s only 5%. This is more of an honourable mention. But, if you’re ever looking for a refreshing, fruity drink (and don’t want to get smashed), then this is the one for you.
Back to the grown-up drinks. When you open this bottle, you are hit with a delicious fruity smell that might fool you into chugging the whole thing. I would recommend against this.
The flavour is sweet and appealing, but the alcoholic aftertaste hits you like a tonne of bricks at the end of each shot. It’s good, but it’s strong.
Jamie: “This one will eventually make you vomit.”
Before I came to Korea, grapefruit was recommended to me as the best soju flavour, and now I know why. The tangy and sharp grapefruit does a pretty good job at concealing the strong alcoholic taste.
This soju is also sold at pretty much every convenience store – often as the only alternative soju flavour. The Koreans clearly like this one too. Without a doubt, it’s up there with the best soju flavours.
Jamie: “A classic: the best flavour you can find anywhere.”
This is the first time I ever tried peach soju as I’ve never actually seen it in a regular convenience store. But, I can confidently say it’s changed my life for the better.
This soju can only be described as a taste sensation (as long as you like peach.) Despite being just as strong as regular soju, the alcoholic taste is minimal. This is the best soju flavour, for sure.
Natalie: “It’s hard to find, but so worth it when you do.”
And there you have it. The best and worst of all the soju flavours (that Homeplus had to offer.) Now please excuse me while I drink lots of water and take a very long nap.
6 thoughts on “A Definitive Ranking Of Soju Flavours”
Love this!! I think my favourite one was always the grape one but I have to agree that the fresh one is definitely the worst. We only bought it when they ran out of all other flavours which thankfully didn’t happen too often 😂
Thanks, Becky! I can’t even stomach the fresh one on its own – mixed with beer it’s bearable, but lethal 🥴
Sorry, I am going to have to vote cherry blossom soju as number one. It is sweet and you can barely tell it has alcohol. You can only find it during cherry blossom season.
I’ve never seen that flavour! It sounds yummy. I’ll keep an eye out for it so I can try it for myself 🙂
Just heard about soju yesterday – from my dental hygienist. Due to my numb mouth – I could not ask a lot of questions. hahaha. Went looking for info and found your piece! Great!!!!! Thank you! Down to earth with a bunch of comments from friends. “This one will eventually make you vomit.” That’s the kind of info I want for sure. Going out to get a bottle of peach!
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I’m so glad you found it useful, Lizza! I’m sure you’ll love the peach flavour – it’s delicious 😋