Review: Yobo Soju

Review: Yobo Soju

Yobo Soju is a rarity in an emerging category: Not only is it made in New York’s Finger Lakes area, it is done so by a Korean American mom and lawyer, Carolyn Kim, who wanted to pay homage to her roots with her take on Korea’s national spirit. The spirit is distilled from local Catawba grapes.

Let’s taste.

The nose here is engaging but quiet, touched with gentle petrol, fresh linen, perfume, and white floral notes — the aromatics coming across like a very light blanche brandy. The palate is also quite gentle — owing in large part to the low abv — and in fact I wouldn’t mind a bit of a bump here. Similar notes as found on the nose dominate here as well, with a body that kicks off with honeydew melon and tree blossoms before fading to notes of linen, perfume, and a touch of that oily petrol. Ultra-clean on the finish but entirely innocuous, it’s effective at doing what soju really does best, offering a mild and pliable base upon which to build a less boozy cocktail. On its own it’s a bit less of a thrill.

46 proof.

B / $36 / 

Yobo 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. Georgi on January 18, 2022 at 8:50 am

    I wanted to love Yoba Soju cuz its made locally (I live on Seneca Lake)…but I did not love it. I barely liked it.

    The aroma is interesting, giving off quince and pineapple and maybe even some grapefruit, but this does not translate into the flavor. It tastes like someone whispered “soju” in another room.

    Drinking it straight at room temp it was flat. I can’t imagine using it in a mixed drink as even tonic would over power the flavor. Perhaps chilling in the freezer would help, but adding ice would take an unremarkable flavor and just water it down.

    Can a 23%ABV Yoba Soju made from catawba grapes even be called ‘soju’? Isn’t it really watered down brandy or grappa or arak?

    Soju is traditionally had with foods. Yet Yoba Soju cannot stand up to any of my Korean dishes: kimchi, bulgogi, jajangmyeon, etc. Maybe it compliments boiled chicken or a slice of vanilla pound cake, but is lost on anything with salt or red pepper flakes or ginger or garlic or spring onions.

    At $39 a bottle it was kind of pricey for an experiment with a 23%ABV liquor.

  2. CJ Kim on February 13, 2022 at 2:48 pm

    I just got a bottle of Yobo Soju from my daughter, and tasted it.
    As Georgi (above comment) noted, I am wandering a liquor made out of catawba grapes even be called “Soju.”
    Nonetheless, to me, Yobo Soju is the Genesis of Hyundai car line that is a higher echelon than Sonata.
    As long as it is categorized as “Soju,” it is the best Soju I was able to taste.
    I will try Yobo with sashimi. I bet it will match well. (It may not blend nicely with hot and spicy soups.)
    I am glad to find a new bottle of liquor named Yobo Soju. Considering the quality and grappa like taste, it is not that expensive to compare with the imported Jinro Soju in nearby liquor store.

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