The Supermarket Makgeolli Guide

Have you ever found yourself at the supermarket or local store, staring at a refrigerator of plastic bottles and have no idea what to choose? Well the Makgeolli Mamas & Papas community is here to make that choice a little easier.

We have been hosting meetings with regular and new members of the community in and around Seoul – Visiting bars, finding out what we can buy in the supermarkets, and chatting with Korean traditional liquor brewers from around the country – for four years now. We have also been fortunate to chat makgeolli with our online community though Twitter , Facebook and this blog.  We have learned so much about what the market has to offer, and what is on offer is growing exponentially.

This page is an outline of the things that have been found, tried and tasted by ourselves and many in the Makgeolli Mamas & Papas community. We hope this resource is useful for you when you visit your local supermarket, convenience store or department store, and you are trying to decide what to drink!

This is a rolling project and is by no means comprehensive (we wish it was!) and the flavour profiles are aggregated from the opinions of our community (people like you!). Everyone has their own palate, so all we can say is explore and taste everything for yourself~ and let us know what you liked (or didn’t like) so we can keep our information up to date!
Please leave your opinions in the comments at the bottom, or engage with the community through our Facebook group.~

 Mamas & Papas of the community use a sheet like this at our meetings:

mmpk supermarket rating template

They rate these characteristics on the following scale:

Smell: 1 None————— 5 Strong

Taste: 1 Bitter —————5 Sweet

Body: 1 Watery —————5 Thick

As well as giving their own more detailed thoughts on each brew.

Supermarket Makgeollies

===

Gapyeong Pine Nut
Name: 가평 잣 막걸리 (Gapyeong Pine Nut)

Alcohol: 6%

Body/Mouthfeel: Light, Watery.

Added Ingredients: Aspartame, Pine nuts.

Comments: Floral, sweet smelling, light, cottony, “A very light and easy to drink makgeolli”.

Availability: Most supermarkets and bars.

=================

Yetnal

Name: 옛날 (Old Times)

Body/Mouthfeel: Medium, thick.

Alcohol: 7%

Added Ingredients: Fructose (sweetener)

Comments: Dusty, fruity, sour, smooth, chalky, cherry-like, “Smells like a woman, tastes like a man” *This was by far the favorite among all Mamas & Papas and comes highly recommended.

=================

우국생
Name:
우국 생 (Ooguk Fresh)

Body/Mouthfeel: Light, watery.

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame (0.009%)

Comments: Routine, carbonated, light, balanced, cereal-like “Best of the convenience store range.”

Availability: Most supermarkets and some bars.

=================

서울 막걸리
Name:
Seoul Makgeolli (서울 막걸리)

Body: Watery, thin

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredient: Aspartame

Comments: Light, bland, fizzy, standard, “Like real makgeolli mixed with Sprite”.

Availability: Most supermarkets and bars.

=================

경주법주
Name:
경주 법주쌀 (Gyeongju Rice)

Body: Watery, Fizzy

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Stevioside (natural sweetener)

Comments: Bitter, simple, watery, tart, airy, nothing special, “Good for a picnic makgeolli”

Pasteurized

Note: This brew is actually available overseas (U.S.A) due to it being pasteurized

it can be transported more easily and stored for extended periods of time

Availability: Most supermarkets.

=================

부여알밤


Name:
부여 알밤 (Buyeo Chestnut)

Body/Mouthfeel: Medium, thick

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredient: Aspartame (0.005%), Chestnuts.

Comments: Carbonate, bubbly, mild flavor, sour, yellowy, “Wouldn’t drink more than one bottle”.

Availability: Some supermarkets and bars.

=================

미담
Name:
미담 (Midam)

Body/Mouthfeel: Medium

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame (27mg)

Comments: Basic, clean, fizzy, average, “Quite thirst quenching.”

Availability: We believe this brew has been discontinued.

=================

쥐눈이콩


Name:
쥐눈이콩 (Small Bean Makgeolli)

Body/Mouthfeel: Medium/Thick

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame, Black beans.

Comments: Creamy, sweet, coconut aftertaste, nutty, easy to drink, “It kind of tastes like Korean coffee mix”.

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

.

자연더덕


Name:
자연담은 더덕

Body/Mouthfeel : Medium/Thick/Rugged

Alcohol: 7%

Added Ingredients: Deodeok Root, (Sweetener is possible but unknown)

Comments: Earthy, dry, strong, dirty, rustic, “Best for hardcore makgeolli fans”.

Pasteurized

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

자연담은 복분자
Name:
자연담은 복분자

Body/Mouthfeel: Medium, Thick.

Alcohol: 7%

Added Ingredients: Bokbunja berries. (Sweetener is unknown)

Comments: Sweet, thick, ice-cream like, wine, “A real girl’s drink”.

Pasteurized

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

자연미몽
Name:
자연담은 미몽

Body/Mouthfeel: Medium.

Alcohol: 7%

Added Ingredients: (sweetener Unknown)

Comments: Light, sour, subtle, earthy, neutral, smooth, “Tastes like quality”.

Pasteurized

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

자연오미자


Name:
자연담은 오미자 (Citrus)

Body/Mouthfeel: Medium

Alcohol: 7%

Added Ingredients: Omija berries, Sweetener unknown

Comments: Bitey, soft kick, strong, fruity, “Would be good with really spicy foods”.

Pasteurized

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

자연 정성쌀
Name:
자연으로 빗은 정성 쌀 (Natural Rice)

Body: Watery, Thin

Alcohol: 7%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame

Comments: Flat, watery, sweet, artificial, nyquil “It’s an intimidating bottle of quantity not quality”.

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

조껍데기
Name:
자연으로 빗은 정성 조껍데기 (Natural husks)

Body: Medium

Alcohol: 7%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame, Rice husks.

Comments: Smokey, strange, dirty color, “Kind of tastes like burnt coffee grounds, or like licking a tire”.

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

자연 더덕2
Name:
자연으로 빗은 정성 더덕 (Natural Root)

Body/Mouthfeel: Light, Watery

Alcohol: 7%

Added Ingredients: Deodeok Roots, Aspartame.

Comments: Regular, light, bland, light root flavor, “It’s a very easy drinking supermarket makgeolli”.

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

순희
Name:
순희 (Soonhui)

Body/Mouthfeel:  Watery

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame (0.008%)

Comments: Plain, tasteless, boring, flat, ultra light, “It’s just like fancy water”. *This was Mamas & Papas least preferred makgeolli of the night.

Availability: Some Supermarkets and many bars.

=================

배혜정생막걸리


Name:
배혜정 (Baehyecheong)

Body/Mouthfeel: 2 (Light/Watery)

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame (0.009%)

Comments: Simple, fresh, mineral aftertaste, “This would be your typical basic makgeolli.”

Note: It appears this brew has been discontinued, or is very hard to find. However the brewer does make a lot of other products… stay tuned for info and reviews.

=================

곤드레
Name:
곤드레 (Potato)

Body/Mouthfeel: Light, watery

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame (0.009%)

Comments: Oozy, flat, sour, yogurt-like “It has a unique flavor.”

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

톡쏘는 쌀막걸리
Name:
톡쏘는 (Tokssoneun)

Body/Mouthfeel: Watery

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame

Comments: Sweet, basic, bland, “It’s nothing special, just an average makgeolli.”

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

주시락 사과


Name:
주시락 사과 (Apple)

Body/Mouthfeel: Light, Watery

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Aspartame

Comments: Not fresh, like caramel apple, artificial, not much apple taste “It’s almost like an instant makgeolli.”

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

주시락 복분자

Name: 주시락 복분자

Body/Mouthfeel: Light/Watery

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Bokbunja berries, Aspartame.

Comments: Fruity, watered down, sugary, grapefruit flavor, “Would probably be good for cocktails”.

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

주시락 배


Name:
주시락 배

Body/Mouthfeel: Light, watery

Alcohol: 6%

Added Ingredients: Asian Pear, Aspartame

Comments: Sweet, fruity, fizzy, “Might be better if it were frozen and made into a slushie”.

Availability: Some Supermarkets

=================

아이싱
Name:
아이싱

Body/Mouthfeel: Light, watery

Comments: Grapefruit juice flavor, soda, breakfast drink, not makgeolli “It’s like Pocari Sweat plus Vitamin Water plus rice”.

Added Ingredients: Grapefruit, aspartame.

Availability: Many supermarkets and convinience stores.

=================

Have you tried any of these brews? Please leave your opinions in the comments or tell the community what you liked/disliked through our Facebook group.~

12 responses to “The Supermarket Makgeolli Guide

  1. “옛날 (Old Times)” 막걸리 contains no aspartamine. It’s made the traditonal way with extra nuruk. Icing is a makgeolli blended mix. The base is makgeolli mixed with grapefruit extract. It tastes like pocari sweat because of the grapefruit.

    • Thanks for the tip James, we will edit it! 옛날 was definitely a favorite among everyone who was tasting. We often recommend it to people asking for a good supermarket makgeolli 🙂

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  4. Wow I never realized Makgeoli contains aspartame! Thanks for the info. By the way, I looked at a bottle of 경주 법주쌀 (Gyeongju Rice), and it does not seem to mention aspartame as an ingredient. Are you sure it still contains it?

    • I also noticed it says that it contains Stevioside, which is a natural sweetener. So maybe this does not use aspartame.

      • Hi Dan! Yes aspartame is something that we are trying to encourage the industry to stop using, and slowly but surely more brewers are exploring other methods of sweetening their brews and changing recipes. However the majority of mid-range makgeolli does use aspartame. I did a check on Gyeongju Beobju (경주 법주) and it seems yes they use Stevioside instead of aspartame. We have been aware of one brew using it, 대대포, with great success so it’s great to see it popping up in other brews.

        Thanks for giving us the update, I will edit accordingly 🙂

  5. Could you add 공주 밤막걸리 to this list? Also, I’d like to know the Korean word for aspartame, so that I can look for it and avoid it next time I go shopping.

    • Hi there! We will be updating our Supermarket Guide soon and will include not just the brews you can get in the store but also at bars, which is where 공주 알밤 is more commonly found. As for aspartame, it is spelled 아스파탐 in Korean 🙂

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  7. I just bought my first bottle of makgeolli in the US, it’s po cheon il dong. It tastes like aspartame. 😦
    I’ll take this list shopping with me next time!

    • Yes unfortunately much of the makgeolli available in the US is either pasteurized or contains aspartame. There is one brewery located in Niles near Chicago that has fresh brewed makgeolli called Slow City, but we hear distribution is limited to around the area.

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