Authentic Korean alcoholic beverages called Sool (술) is yet to be widely discovered outside Korea, but is one of the most unique and exciting subjects in the beverage world. Kyungmoon Kim, who was the first Korean national in history to earn the title of Master Sommelier in 2016, uses his years of experience to found KMS (Korean Modern Spirits) bringing artisanal Korean Sool to the United States and his talents to Michelin star dining establishment JEJU Noodle Bar.
What is Sool?
Before we dive into the master behind the craft, it would help to better understand the art of Sool. Korean sool is typically made with rice, nuruk and water. All the ingredients are sourced locally and these express true terroirs of each products that they make. What distinguishes Korean sool from other beverage is nuruk. It is the wild yeast culture that becomes the starter for rice brew. These yeasts and enzymes in nuruk act as working engine of breaking down the starch in rice to fermentable sugar then convert those sugar to create alcohol. Typical fermentation process can last anywhere from 7 to as long as 100 days. The liquid is then lightly filtered which becomes Takju or Makgeolli, a cloudy brew. When only clear liquid is drawn, it is called chungju, clear brew, which is when distillation can occur. Chungju is placed inside a still called Gori (고리) which sits over a furnace; the heat separates alcohol and water, and the collected liquid is now soju. Traditional single distillation process retains more congeners which contributes to complex flavors in soju.
About Kyungmoon Kim & KMS
From a young age Kyungmoon Kim discovered that he had an exceptional palate – one that led him to the world of wine and spirits. As he immersed himself in the world of wine, he leverage his palate and his natural aptitude for memorization to build an extensive base of wine knowledge. Kyungmoon spearheaded the beverage program at JUNGSIK in Seoul and New York, and then the Modern – establishments that undoubtedly required extraordinary knowledge and skills. Kyungmoon’s desire to seek his heritage and learn about traditional Koran beverage grew, coinciding with the more widespread interest and appreciation for Korean cuisine stateside. But there was only one problem, being there was very little authentic Korean Sool available in market, to which Kyungmoon had the precise solution. After years fantasizing of possibilities, Kyungmoon founded Korean Modern Sprits (KMW). Bridging modernity with tradition, KMS works with small family owned breweries/distilleries that showcase personality, passion and quality in each respective region to bring exceptional Korean beverages to the U.S.
JEJU x KMS
Chef Douglas Kim of Jeju Noodle Bar, a long-time friend of Kyungmoon from their days at the Culinary Institute of America, has teamed up with KMS to offer an exclusive 6-course prefix menu, with traditional Korean beverage pairings for each course. Available on June 24th at Jeju Noodle Bar in New York.