It has taken a long time for a country known for distilling one of the most consumed alcoholic beverages in the world to be producing some other white spirit. But the wait has been worth it.
South Korea, perhaps best known for distilling soju, has released its first ever craft gin, and boy are we glad that they’ve checked all the right boxes.
Buja Gin, a small outfit located in Yangpyeong (located east of Seoul), is the nation’s first craft gin distiller, and produces small-batch bottlings entirely using only bountiful ingredients sourced within Korea.
[Read more: Soju: What is it and why people love it]
Run by a father and son team (therefore the name Buja, which means ‘father and son’, but also ‘rich’, in Korean), the pair are not only responsible for producing gin, but also for growing many of the botanicals that go into the still.
Dad is the man in charge of the family farm, which grows some of the botanicals they need, while junior distills and markets the products. According to their website, one of the main reasons for setting up Buja Gin was to support local farmers, therefore the insistence on only sourcing for ingredients within Korea.
In their Signature Gin, find 15 domestic botanicals infused inside, including Korean juniper and Jeju hallabong. It is recommended to drink it neat or in spirit-forward cocktails like a dry Martini. If you must have it as a Gin & Tonic, ditch the limes and cucumbers and garnish with hallabong instead.
Their second gin is the Omija Gin. As the name suggests, omija berries feature prominently in this pink-hued spirit. Also known as Magnolia berries or five-flavour fruit, the omija is used here to impart salty, sweet, spicy, sour, and bitter notes all at once.
Then there’s the Wormwood Gin. It uses a type of local mugwort most commonly associated with Absinthe, wormwood, as an ingredient, resulting in a highly fragrant and herbal gin.
To be producing gin using 100% locally-grown ingredients is a real feat, and a much-appreciated one given the glut of undifferentiated gin labels already in the international market.
Buja Gin is only available in Korea right now.