In Alcohol Review Cocktails Drinks Entertaining Food and Drink Recipes Soju West 32 Reserve

Korean Started, New York Bred, American Finished: West 32 Reserve Soju

There was a time when it became the bane of my existence to venture within a four block radius of 34th Street Herald Square.  Having been born and raised in New York City, I've already experienced the infamous wonder of Empire State, my Macy's encounters are strictly relegated to on-line treks and I get off the subway and 42nd Street and walk down as opposed to getting off at 34th and walking up to get to the Garment District.  Now this is not to say that circumstance or situation won't beckon me to the area occasionally.  My vegan walk often brings me to the Pennsy Food Hall at Penn Station and my occasional bevy of events make a subway exit at any of the 34th Street stops unavoidable.  However, there is a light at the end of the frustratingly crowded, manically flooded and uncomfortably tight tunnel.  Koreatown is a cozily hidden little gem of a neighborhood where one can celebrate the wonders of all thing Korean from bibimbap to kimchee and from mandu to soju. 

Now, how fitting a reason to make the winding-block trek to just below where Broadway meets The Avenue of the Americas to Koreantown for soju.  That national drink of Korea with its clear and neutral-tasting vodka-esque quality has a soothing viscosity that makes it a perfect sipper.  So how intrigued was I to discover that a company had furthered their foothold in the realm of soju and conjured up an improvement to this wonderful spirit.  West 32 Reserve is America's first barrel-aged soju that's distilled in New York State and offers a 100% natural chemical/sweetener/artificial additive-free ingredient list. 

West 32 Reserve achieves this by being distilled from corn for six months in aged American white oak whiskey barrels.  What's interesting to note is that Koreans have always had to be creative with soju distilling as the spirit has gone through changes like being distilled from rice, to a banning of using rice during the Korean War then back to being able to use rice again in the 1990s.  Throughout the rice ban, distilleries used alternative starches like wheat, sweet potato or tapioca to concoct sojus and many have won & stuck with it despite being able to use rice again.  So the broad creative options within the soju market has made this spirit the #1 selling distilled spirit in the world.  So now what West 32 has done, cleverly and quite effectively I must say, is combine the tradition of soju with the familiarity of whiskey for a tasting experience that is smooth and comforting.

I love a spirit that can stand alone or work well in cocktails.  The taste of West 32 Reserve has a sly woody & sweet fragrance that translates into a mature pleasantness once it hits the palette.  This is a perfect sipper like a classic soju is or works well as a cocktail star for playing up the infusion of the notes from the aging in the white oak barrels.  Oftentimes simple is best and Baro by Chef's Society at 34 West 32nd Street features West 32 Reserve and makes a great highball with it.

West 32 Highball

2 ounces       West 32 Reserve Soju
6 ounces       Ginger Ale

Add ice to a highball glass.  Add soju and then top off with ginger ale.  Finally garnish with a lemon wheel and serve.  

The West 32 Reserve works well here as you can still taste the uniqueness of the soju while the oaky fragrant quality is enhanced by the sweet slightly peppery ginger ale.

West 32 Reserve is the latest addition to the West 32 Soju family and is launching now at select bars, restaurants and wine & spirit retailers in your area.  Check the brand's website here for online purchasing and availability.  Or you can always make your way into Koreatown; it'll satisfyingly be worth the trek especially considering what you'll have to traverse through.  Try West 32 Reserve and as always please remember to enjoy responsibly.
Daniel Lee and Maxwell Fine, owners of West 32 Soju

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