Hyunmi Takju is the newest addition to the Hana Makgeolli line and the start of a new line of sool (Korean alcohol) featuring different rice varietals. Hyunmi Takju is made with 60% organic sweet brown rice using traditional Korean brewing methodologies. The Hyunmi Takju is a sayangju (4 stage brew), fermented over the course of 6 weeks. It is assertive and dark to start and then softens into notes of warm chestnut and earth. While the terms takju and makgeolli are technically interchangeable, takju typically refers to a higher alcohol brew.
Supply is teeny-tiny, hopefully ramping up in the future, so for now I am limiting to one bottle per order. Thanks so much for your interest in this Brooklyn-based, woman-owned microbrewery, striving to bring hidden beauty into the spotlight-- something I can certainly get behind!
Makgeolli is similar to sake in that it uses the same base starch (rice), which is converted to sugar through the action of enzymes produced by microorganisms, fermented to alcohol through the action of yeast, finally landing around 14-16%. The texture is reminiscent of doburoku (or thick nigori) with a flavor profile closest to sake made with bodaimoto & natural yeast (see: low intervention sake).
As much as there are similarities between the two rice brews, there are a lot of differences too. The microorganisms are more diverse, consisting not only of aspergillus oryzae mold (koji) but also a collection of other yeast, molds and bacteria (such as lactobacillus, found in yogurt), collectively called nuruk. Where koji is the basis of Japanese alcohol fermentations (sake, shochu) nuruk is the basis of Korean alcohol fermentations (soju, makgeolli, and others). Makgeolli doesn't generally use highly polished rice like sake does, and it can also use different kinds of rice in the same brew (glutinous & regular short grain).
As a result of its method of manufacture and the specific care Alice takes at Hana Makgeolli, her brews' acidity is higher and flavor more pungent than you might be used to with sake. It has a ton of personality and verve, while sharing the cooling and nourishing qualities of nigori. Like natural sake, Hana Makgeolli can (and should) stand up to big flavors, starting (but not ending!) with kimchi jjigae, KBBQ, kimchi grilled cheese, and the full gamut of H-Mart's deli pickle selection.