Sake vs Soju: Difference and Comparison

The lists of Asian beverages are on the rise; they have recently gained quite a lot of popularity. They are mostly paired with sushi and other Asian main course dishes or barbeque.

Two popular Asian main alcoholic beverages are sake and soju. While both these beverages are gaining international popularity apart from their respective countries, they should not be confused.

They are completely different beverages and can be differentiated on several grounds, such as country of origin, alcohol content, prevalence, production process, flavor, and serving suggestion.

Sake is an alcoholic beverage commonly known as rice or Japanese rice wine. The process makes it fermentation.

Soju is a clear-spirit drink, like vodka, made by distillation and later age. The alcohol content in sake is less than sake as it has 15% to 17% alcohol content, whereas soju has a much higher alcohol content, ranging between 15% to 46%.

Key Takeaways

  1. Sake is a Japanese wine made from fermented rice and water; soju is a Korean distilled liquor made from grains, such as rice or barley.
  2. Sake has a mild, fruity flavour with a rice aroma; soju is clear, colourless, and neutral.
  3. Sake is served chilled or at room temperature and is paired with Japanese cuisine; soju can be served chilled or at room temperature and is consumed with Korean dishes.

Sake vs. Soju

Sake is made by fermenting rice with water and yeast, while soju is made by distilling rice, wheat, or barley and mixed with other ingredients. Soju is made by distilling rice, wheat, or barley and mixed with other ingredients, with a higher alcohol content and neutral flavor profile than sake.

Sake vs Soju
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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonSakeSoju
OriginIt is a Japanese beverageIt is a Korean beverage
ProcessThe process makes it fermentation.It is made by the process of distillation
Food components fromIt is made out of riceIt is made of rice, barley, sweet potatoes, wheat, and tapioca.
Alcohol ContentIt has less alcohol content, 15% to17%It has a higher alcohol content of 15% to 53%
AromaIt has the mild and soft aromaIt does not have any specific aroma as it is a clear-spirit beverage
FlavorSake has a very distinguishable flavor that varies from sweet, umami, salty, and sour to bitter.It is mostly like diluted vodka.

What is Sake?

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made by the process of fermenting rice. It is also referred to as “Japanese rice wine.”

Making sake is a complex process as it starts by harvesting, polishing, washing, soaking, and steaming the rice. The fungus named koji is introduced along with yeast, and the process of fermentation, filtering, and other pasteurizing follows it.

The process of making sake is somewhat similar to the process of making beer. The label on the bottle of sake gives an average estimate of its taste.

The sake flavor is rated according to the sake meter value, ranking from -15 to +15 on the sake scale of driest to sweetness. Sake has a combination of flavors such as “astringent” and “savory” with “mildly sweet,” “clean,” and “well balanced.”

Sake is best preferred at room temperature but can also be enjoyed at hot or cold temperatures. It is the national beverage in Japan, served in special ceremonies.

Traditionally it is warmed in small earthen or porcelain bottles and served in a small cup known as sakazuki.

sake

What is Soju?

Soju is an alcoholic beverage that originated in Korea. It is a colorless, odorless, clear spirit.

Soju’s alcohol content varies from 15% to 53% alcohol by volume. Soju was traditionally made from rice, wheat, and barley but is now made from other food components, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, wheat, and tapioca.

Soju is made in a two-step process.

Soju is best produced in warm climates. Soju is the top-selling liquor by volume rate worldwide; it is not legally considered a spirit in all places.

It was popularized as Korean culture became extremely popular worldwide, and people started following K-drama. Soju is a distilled beverage like vodka.

Often flavored soju is available. Another very popular form of soju is yogurt, which combines soju, yogurt, and lemon-lime soda.

In recent times soju has been made from various food supplements. Hence it can cater to a variety of flavors and aromas in it. But soju on itself does not have much flavor or aroma to it as it is white-spirit.

Soju is appreciated for its “clear neutral taste” and subtle sweetness.”

soju

Main Differences Between Sake and Soju

  1. Sake originally originated in Japan, and soju originally originated in Korea. Yet both drinks are widely popularized all over the world now.
  2. Sake is made by fermentation, like beer, whereas soju is made by distillation, like vodka.
  3. Sake is made of rice, whereas soju has several food components such as rice, barley, wheat, potatoes, and tapioca.
  4. Sake is a milder drink as it has less alcoholic content, between 15% to 17%, whereas soju is a stronger drink with higher alcoholic content, such as 15% to 53%.
  5. Sake has a mild and soft aroma, whereas soju has no aroma as it is clear-spirit.
  6. Sake offers various flavors: sweet, umami, salty, sour, and bitter. Soju, on the other hand, is diluted vodka. It does not have any flavor until it is mixed with other food components.
Difference Between Sake and Soju
References
  1. https://aem.asm.org/content/55/8/1901.short
  2. https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00027.2001?view=long&pmid=11917093
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1463499613483394
  4. https://www.koreascience.or.kr/article/JAKO201534851987641.page

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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23 thoughts on “Sake vs Soju: Difference and Comparison”

  1. An interesting and detailed comparison between sake and soju. The article provides a lot of valuable information for any reader interested in Asian beverages.

  2. The article offers a comprehensive explanation of sake and soju. The comparison provided is insightful and well-researched.

    1. The in-depth exploration of these Asian beverages is commendable, Fiona. It’s a great resource for those seeking knowledge about sake and soju.

  3. The details about the making of sake and soju are quite fascinating. It’s evident that both drinks have rich cultural backgrounds.

  4. I’ve always been curious about sake and soju, and this article has answered all my questions. I’m intrigued to try them both now!

  5. This article does a great job in clearly highlighting the differences between sake and soju. The descriptions provide a comprehensive understanding of the two beverages.

    1. Avatar of David Robertson
      David Robertson

      The information provided is very useful, especially for people unfamiliar with Asian beverages.

  6. The comparison table is a great addition to the article. It presents the disparities between sake and soju in a clear, concise manner.

    1. I couldn’t agree more, Ward. The table makes it easy to grasp the key differences between the two beverages.

  7. An engaging and informative read about the characteristics of sake and soju. It’s intriguing to learn about these unique beverages.

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