HWAJU 12 | Stemming from the Korean root words hwa and ju, HWAJU can translate to both flower wine and fire water. Naturally fermented, unfiltered rice wine made with organic rice and infused with hydrangea and crysanthemum flowers.
Inspired by the traditional herbal and flower infused sools that can only be found in Korea, the HWAJU 12 is a sayangju (4 stage fermented alcohol) and made exclusively with organic medium grain white rice, organic sweet white rice, nuruk (traditional Korean wild fermentation starter), and filtered New York Hudson River soft water. The HWAJU 12 is 12% ABV, dry, earthy, delicately floral, and bright with naturally occurring lactic acid and effervescence.
Best kept refrigerated or stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Shake gently to incorporate sediment and enjoy cold.
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 of Hwaju & Takju 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.