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Thirteen Herbs

Thirteen Herbs are Transformed into a Medicinal Golden Liquor

“First, lucidness with a golden hue is for the eye; a unique and soft scent is for nose; and a deep flavor and softness awakening the five senses on the tip of the tongue is for the throat.” Near the valley of Mt. Chuwol in Damyang in South Jeolla Province, there is the scent of alcoholic drinks that attract the eyes, nose, and mouth alike. Along the way, there is Chusungkoul where ‘Chusungju,’with its 1,000-old history, is brewed. Yang Dae-soo is diligently carrying on the 1,000-old business.

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Chusung is the old name of Damyang. With an eponymous name, the history of Chusungju dates back to Munjong’s reign during the Goryeo (the 2nd united kingdom in Korea [918~1392]) period when monks at Yeundong temple enjoyed it for their health as a grain wine made from native plants and barley corn.

Mr. Yang explained: “The monks in question used to live in a cold place and they brewed a grain wine by adding various medicinal ingredients that are good for neuralgia. The Chusungju is good then for those who suffer from bad joints.”During Japan’s occupation of Korea the fate of the Chusungju was uncertain. However, the virtuous Yang family of Namwon has maintained brewing the wine right up to today when the Chusungju has risen in the rankings of traditional Korean liquors. Among the latter, Chusungju contains no fewer than thirteen medicinal herbs. In addition, bamboo extract, which is believed to be good for hypertension, palsy, and glycosuria, is added to the already medicinal liquor. Chusungju is similar to Western liquors in terms of clean taste and scent.

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The making process is carried out with the greatest care. After fermenting 100% rice and medicinal herbs for over 100 days and making the first fermented liquor, it goes through the distillation process two more times during which the maintaining of the delicacy and taste of each herb is crucial. Filtering through bamboo soot with the power to deodorize and clean mollifies the Chusungju and makes it have good after-effects. Indeed, the virtue of the Chusungju definitely resides in the disinfectant influence in the stomach and intestines. After going through one more distillation, the Chusungju become Tamiangs with a substantial 40% alcohol content.

Mr. Yang said: “Chusungju is brewed from pure grain liquor and goes through two distillations so that, unlike other fermented liquors, it can be stored for a long time. It is hard to juggle between maintaining the flavor of the history and commercializing the traditional intoxicant. Nevertheless, I am brewing the liquor today with the ardent wish to protect the Chusungju.”

‘Daeipsool,’made of ten kinds of medicinal ingredients and bamboo leaves, is also popular. The wine, with a bambooish green color, has been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its quality and has recently come into the spotlight at home and abroad. Also, Daenamoogol blackberry wine made of 100% domestic blackberry liquid is different from conventional blackberry wine.

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Mr. Yang stressed: “My son has said that he will succeed me but, knowing that it is hard to protect traditional liquors, he has my sympathy as well as heartfelt thanks. But, for now, I am developing liquors responsive to the tastes of today’s consumers whilst protecting the Chusungju with its age-old venerable history.”

Park Sung Eun  parkse@agrinet.co.kr

<저작권자 © AgraFood, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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