Review: Ty Ku Soju

Review: Ty Ku Soju

The only sane thing to do here is to explain what soju is. It’s not sake, though sake drinkers will notice some similarities in the flavor profile. While sake is more akin to wine or beer, soju is a Korean distilled beverage, more like vodka.

But not exactly: At just 48 proof (Ty Ku’s alcohol level is typical), most soju wouldn’t pass for any serious spirit. Instead it occupies a middle ground between wine and liquor… and one which will probably suffer confused consumers for years to come. (To further complicate things, in China, shochu is about the same thing as soju.)

Ty Ku’s blue-bottled soju (the actual spirit is clear) is a crisp and pleasant spirit that I like a lot. With fresh melon notes like the best sakes, this soju is brisk and easy to drink on its own or with mixers. (Ty Ku positions it as a “modern update” to soju and as a substitute for vodka in mixed drinks as a way to cut calories. Not a bad idea.)

Distilled from barley and made in Japan (not Korea), a touch of sweetness is evident in the body, but it fades fast, leaving behind that honeydew character that begs you to take another sip.

Very easy to drink and worth a try in any vodka-based cocktail… but only after you give it a whirl on its own.

48 proof.

A- / $30

Ty Ku Soju




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Edoc on January 18, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Yeah, if it’s distilled in Japan, the naming seems screwed up. Soju is well known as being from Korea, and shochu is well known for being from Japan.

  2. boozeblogger on January 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    I almost picked up a fifth of this myself, but after getting a bottle of Tito’s for so cheap, it’s hard for me to justify the $25-30 price tag. Is it worth the extra money to pick some of this up?

  3. Edoc on January 19, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    I haven’t tried Ty-Ku soju (but I have tried their liqueur, which I don’t care for).

    For shochu, I think Yokaichi Mugi Shochu is good (although pricey). Japanese shochu is generally light in terms of alcohol content at 25% and under. For Korean soju, I’ve had Andong soju, which is good and considerably stronger in terms of ABV (35% if I recall correctly). By the way, Andong is not a brand, it’s a type of soju.

  4. Alex on January 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks for the clarification on sake, shochu, and soju!! I’m a huge fan of the TY KU Soju just because of the benefits of having less calories and a smooth taste. Some of the other Soju’s out there are still really harsh, so I say give TY KU a try.

  5. Stacey on January 28, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I’ve had this soju, (and yes, shochu is better if brewed in Japan) and it’s not necessarily bad. It’s a really good flavor catalyst meaning less mixer. It enhances a great orange flavor, or any citrus at all.

  6. Ramona on January 31, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Wow, the bottle is breathtaking.

  7. Martin on May 17, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I think this bottle is definitely worth the price tag! It has such a refreshing taste, and like previously mentioned, you can use more alcohol and less chaser in your mixed cocktails. It’s at least worth a try, I love it!

  8. Anonymous on October 4, 2010 at 9:17 am

    not only is the bottle amazing but so is whats inside it!….keep up the great work TY KU im your number one fan :)

  9. Samantha on October 6, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Absolutely a fan of TY KU’s Soju. First, the bottle appealed to me – but it was what’s inside which was more important. I tried a cocktail with the TY KU Liqueur/TY KU Soju, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of diet citrus’s a favorite of mine.

  10. Sara on December 31, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I am a big fan of TY KU soju. I say it’s definitely worth the tag. and the bottles are beautiful. It has less calories than vodka and definitely doesn’t give you the vodka hangover. Perfect drink to ring in 2011!

  11. Adelina on January 31, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    such a fan of TY KU soju! absolutely my favorite out of the TY KU family. its healthy, light and delicious. guilt-free i might add..

  12. Stacy on February 14, 2011 at 10:19 am

    i tried the soju with some lemonade and loved it i prefer drinking it with fruity flavored drinks to give it a kick. I think it’s a perfect drink that everyone should have in their liquor cabinet

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