Traditional soju makes intoxicating comeback

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Traditional soju makes intoxicating comeback

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In recent years, soju manufacturers have been competing to lower the high alcohol content of the beloved Korean beverage to attract new customers. Some distillers added fruit flavoring to the drink to appeal to a larger audience.

However, it seems their efforts were in vain. While the smooth-tasting, fruit-flavored soju has become a major trend, traditional soju - with an alcohol contents of 25 percent - has been enjoying a comeback in sales.

According to Hite-Jinro, which still holds the biggest market share, the company’s most traditional soju with an alcohol content of 25 percent, Jinro Gold, sold 175,000 boxes last year, nearly double the 92,000 boxes it sold a decade ago. Compared to the previous year, Jinro Gold sold roughly 10 percent more.

The company said the growing interest in the higher alcohol content tipple is largely because of soju aficionados, who prefer the bitter taste of soju over the sweetness of newer versions. The growing trends of nostalgia, created by TV soap operas whose stories are based in the 1980s or 1990s, have also played a role in boosting sales.

“Although we haven’t strengthened our marketing specifically on high-alcohol content soju, the fact that sales have been growing shows that consumers who missed the true taste soju have been increasing,” said a Hite-Jinro official.

Sales of the premium soju with the same alcohol content Ilpoom Jinro have also gone up. The company sold 72,000 boxes, which containing six 375 milliliter bottles, last year, which is a 72.8 percent increase year-on-year, while boxes sold in 2014 surged 171 percent compared to 2013.

Ilpoon Jinro is the company’s premium version of soju, which has been aged in oak for 10 years, according to the company.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]




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