Difference Between Sake and Soju

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 28, 2023


Difference Between Sake and Soju

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Sake and Soju are alcoholic drinks. Soju is a Korean alcoholic beverage, whereas sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage. Rice wine is another name for sake, which is also written as saké or saki. Given that both soju and sake are transparent alcoholic beverages with the same ABV of roughly 14–24%, it may be difficult to tell them apart. The majority of novices are confused just by the similarities in appearance. Unsurprisingly, there are significant differences between the two alcoholic beverages that go beyond their antecedents.

Sake vs Soju

The Japanese and South Korean national drinks are Saké and Soju, respectively. Sake is a distilled rice-based brewed beverage that is also referred to as "rice wine." It is produced using fermentation and ageing, just like wine or beer. Soju is primarily a Korean beverage that is comparable to vodka or whisky. Soju is a clear, distilled beverage with Korean roots. This clear liquid is typically sipped neat. Japanese beverage saké is also known as Japanese rice wine. After removing the bran, rice is fermented to create sake. The majority of soju brands are produced in South Korea and contain wheat, barley, or rice as main ingredients. Soju is distilled whereas sake is brewed. The environments in which the two beverages are produced differ, as well. Sake is better produced in cool climates, while Soju is better produced in warm climates. Sake contains less alcohol than Soju. Soju contains between 15% and 46% alcohol, compared to Sake's 15–17% alcohol content. By volume, soju is the most popular alcoholic beverage worldwide. While this is happening, sales of sake in the United States have been rising every year since the 1990s.

Difference Between Sake and Soju in Tabular Form

Parameters of comparisonSojuSake
Definitionis a distilled alcoholic beverage that is colourless and clear.A traditional alcoholic drink made from fermented rice
ContentsSweet potato, Barley, Tapioca, or Wheat Rice, Water, Yeast and Koji
More alcohol contentMoreLess
ClimateWarm climateCool climate

What is Soju?

Soju is a whitish distilled drink from Korea. This clear liquid is typically drunk neat. The alcohol content ranges between 16.8% and 53.0%. The majority of soju brands are produced in South Korea and are manufactured from wheat, barley, or rice. However, modern producers may substitute rice for other starch-containing items such as tapioca, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Soju is produced in a distinct manner that differs from Sake. Soju is produced in two steps. The first stage involves the conversion of starch to sugar, followed by the conversion of sugar to alcohol. Following that, the mixture is matured, often for ten years. Soju is a Korean beverage produced from rice, barley, and sweet potatoes. Soju contains more alcohol.

Soju is a clear spirit that originated in Korea. It was traditionally made from rice, but since distilling rice was prohibited during the Korean War, distillers have substituted wheat, sweet potatoes, and even tapioca. As a result, the aroma and flavour of soju vary. Soju is typically consumed straight with meals, similar to wine, however, it is sometimes used in cocktails as a spirit. It has a neutral flavour, similar to vodka, but half the alcohol content; it normally ranges between 20 to 34 per cent ABV, compared to vodka's 40% ABV.

.Soju is the world's best-selling liquor by volume, yet it is not legally recognised as a spirit everywhere. Soju containing no more than 24 per cent alcohol by volume, for example, can be served in New York and California under a beer and wine licence, which is less expensive and easier to obtain for restaurants than a liquor licence.

Soju is a distilled drink that originated in Korea. Soju is a type of liquor similar to vodka. Yet, due to the sugars added during the manufacturing process, it is frequently thought to have a sweeter taste than vodka. Like vodka, it is frequently consumed neatly and in cocktails. Soju is frequently confused with Chinese baijiu and/or Japanese. The majority of soju brands are produced in South Korea. They are historically prepared from rice, although modern manufacturers frequently substitute potatoes, wheat, barley, sweet potatoes, or tapioca for rice.

Soju is clear and colourless, and it is popular in Korea due to its inexpensive price. Beer, whisky and wine have grown in popularity in recent years, owing primarily to cultural Westernisation. Soju is still one of Korea's most popular alcoholic beverages. This is primarily owing to its widespread availability and low cost. More than 3 billion bottles of soju were drunk in South Korea in 2004, according to estimates.


The Levantine distillation technology was introduced to the Korean Peninsula during the Mongol invasions of Korea (1231-1259) by the Yuan Mongols, who had obtained the technique of distilling arak from the Persians during their invasions of the Levant, Anatolia, and Persia. The distilleries were built in and around Gaegyeong, the then capital (now Kaesong). Soju is still known as arak-ju in Kaesong's neighbouring areas. Andong soju, the direct ancestor of modern South Korean soju variations, began as a home-brewed whisky made in the city of Andong, which served as the Yuan Mongols' logistics hub during this period.

Traditionally, soju is manufactured by distilling alcohol from fermented grains. The rice wine for distilled soju is typically fermented for about 15 days before distillation, with the filtered, mature rice wine being boiled in a sot (cauldron) topped with soju gori (two-storied distilling appliance with a pipe). In the 1920s, the Korean Peninsula had over 3,200 soju breweries.

Different types of Soju


All traditional types of soju are classified as "distilled." The result of merely distilling and bottling the liquor without any additional procedures is a well-refined rice wine with a somewhat high alcohol content—around 25%. While lighter spirits are becoming more popular, some firms have stopped producing distilled soju, although there are still plenty of options available.

Diluted Soju

Diluted soju is manufactured in the same manner as distilled soju, except that water is added to the bottle to reduce the alcohol concentration. Many brands of diluted soju now contain around 14% alcohol. This makes it ideal for sipping while you eat your meal.

Cocktail soju

Fruity-flavoured soju has risen in popularity as flavoured beverages gain appeal. This light, refreshing beverage can be enjoyed on its own or as an ingredient in cocktails. They normally have an alcohol concentration ranging from 12% to 14%.

Chamisul is a traditional soju derived from sweet potatoes and other carbohydrates. It's prevalent in Korean restaurants, bars, and marketplaces, but it's also available in most major cities throughout the world.

Soju Chum Churum

 Chum chum soju is a rice and grain-based soju. It has a milder flavour and is less bitter than other varieties of soju. This is an excellent choice for newcomers who are unfamiliar with the flavour of traditional Soju.

Hello, Soju. Good Day

Soju not only has the sweetest name but it is also manufactured in the south of Korea with pure water from Jiri Mountain, giving it a clean, mellow taste. This soju is also available in a variety of fruit flavours.

Soju O2Linn

O2Linn, commonly known as "oxygen soju" due to its high oxygen content, has a cleaner taste than Good Day soju. The best thing is that this style of distillation emphasises environmentally sustainable alcohol production technologies. One may argue that consuming this beverage helps the environment.

 Soju Andong

 This type of soju is pricey, but it is something that everybody should try at least once in their lives. This drink has a velvety texture, a faint citrus flavour, and a high alcohol content—typically between 22% and 45%. It is manufactured of wheat and rice that has been fermented for 15 days.

What is sake?

Sake, often known as Japanese rice wine, is a Japanese beverage. Sake is prepared by fermenting rice after the bran has been removed. While wine contains alcohol (ethanol) formed via the fermentation of carbohydrates such as fruits (grapes), sake is manufactured through a brewing technique more akin to beer. Starch is transformed into sugars, which then ferment into alcohol during this process. In Japanese, the word "sake" means "liquor," and it is pronounced shu. Sake is the national drink, and it is frequently provided on important occasions.

 A fermented rice-based alcoholic beverage. The resulting product is usually clear or slightly yellowish, with an ABV range from 14 to 16 per cent. While sake is sometimes referred to as "Japanese rice wine," the prized beverage is produced in a manner separate from that of wine: unlike wine, sake requires a two-step fermentation process that transforms starches to sugars and subsequently the sugars into alcohol.

Preparation of Sake

Following that, the sake may go through rounds of pasteurisation, filtration, and ageing, resulting in an extremely different profile of sake to choose from. Depending on its flavour qualities and your taste preferences, you can drink the Japanese beverage hot, cold, or over ice as an aperitif, digestif, or companion to your meal.

Initially, the rice grains are "polished," which means the outer layers are removed; the lower the polishing ratio, the higher the quality and price. Ginjo sake, for example, has a maximum polishing ratio of 60%, which means that 40% of the grains' exterior has been polished, whereas the more premium and delicate Daiginjo has a maximum polishing ratio of 50%, which means that 50% of the grains' exterior has been polished. After polishing, washing, soaking in water, and steaming the rice, it is coated in koji mould (koji-kin) to make koji, which converts the rice starches into glucose in the process. The second fermentation process can now commence, with the addition of yeast to turn the glucose into alcohol.

Following that, the sake may go through rounds of pasteurisation, filtration, and ageing, resulting in an extremely different profile of sake to choose from. Depending on its flavour qualities and your taste preferences, you can drink the Japanese beverage hot, cold, or over ice as an aperitif, digestif, or companion to your meal.

History of sake

The actual date when humans in Japan started producing sake is unknown. Yet, it's thought that alcohol-containing rice beverages were already being produced during the Yayoi period (300 BC-250 AD) when rice cultivation was introduced to Japan from China. The techniques for growing rice stabilised in the second half of the Nara period (710–794). To make sake for the Imperial Court, a unique company called Sake-no-Tsukasa was founded. Sake was brewed in temples and shrines as well as among the people during the Heian period (794-1185). Sake breweries were first developed during the Muromachi era (1333-1573). As a result, the Muromachi Shogunate began taxing sake production as a source of revenue for the government.

Sake is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage. It, like beer and wine, is produced through fermentation. Sake is created from rice, which is a common food in Japan. It is an essential component of Japanese culture and lifestyle. Japanese cuisine has grown in popularity around the world in recent years. As a result, a rising number of people around the world appreciate sake, which pairs nicely with Japanese cuisine.

Sake can be dry or sweet in flavour, as evaluated by the Sake Metre Value (SMV), a scalable platform ranging from -15 to +15, with dryness growing by a number. These numbers are frequently found on sake menus and on sake bottle labels. Unfiltered sake is milky white and normally clear and still, but some sakes are carbonated. Sake tastes best when served at room temperature. It can be served cold or warm, though the latter is usually reserved for less expensive, less sophisticated sake.

Different types of sake


Junmai-shu is made entirely of pure unadulterated sake, with no brewer's alcohol added. The alcohol contains no extra flour or sugar. Junmai-shu makes use of Seimai Buai, which contains at least 70% milled rice. This means that only about 70% of the rice retains its original size. Only around 30% of the outer coating of the rice grain is removed.


Ginjo-shu is prepared from rice, 40% of which is milled and 60% of which is left whole. It has a lovely scent and a delicate, light flavour.


Onjozo-shu is made from sake rice that has a Seimai Buai, or milling degree, of 70%. This signifies that 70% of the grain is unmilled, whereas 30% is milled. The sake is created using brewer's alcohol and is less strong than sake made without the use of alcohol. This ingredient is responsible for the sake's light and silky body and flavour. It also distinguishes and quickly identifies the fragrance of the drink. Honjozo-shu is best served warm.


Namazake signifies that the alcohol has not been pasteurised. Namazake can be any type of sake. As a result, Namazake can be Junmai-shu, Ginjo-shu, or any other sort of sake. This sort of alcohol must be chilled to maintain the flavour and scent of the drink. Jizake, or sake produced by small brewers and not mass-manufactured, is another sort of sake. This may not always imply excellent quality.

Difference between Soju and Sake in Points

1. Sake (of Japanese origin), also referred to as "rice wine," is produced using the same fermentation and ageing processes as wine and beer. Soju is primarily a Korean beverage that is comparable to vodka or whisky.

2. Soju contains more alcohol than sake. Soju contains between 15 and 46 per cent alcohol, compared to sake's 15 to 17 per cent.

3. In contrast to soju, which is made from rice, barley, and sweet potatoes, sake is only made from rice.

4. Unlike soju, which has a distinct aroma from the base materials used, a sake beverage typically has a mild and soft aroma.

5. Soju is distilled while sake is brewed.

6. Soju is prepared in a warm climate, whereas sake is prepared in a cool climate


Soju and sake are two famous alcoholic beverages originating from Korea and Japan. Rice that has been polished to remove the outer shell is fermented to create sake, a type of rice wine. It is usually served chilled or at room temperature and has a smooth, bar flavor. But soju, a clear distilled liquor made from grains like rice, wheat or barley, is different. Compared to sake, it contains more alcohol and has a unique flavor that can be  sweet or savory. Although soju is usually drunk cold, it can also be drunk at room temperature or added to drinks. Both soju and sake are  widely consumed throughout Asia, but they differ in their preparation, taste, and  alcohol content. Soju has a stronger flavor and is commonly used in Korean cuisine, while sake is more subtle and pairs better with Japanese cuisine. Overall, each drink has  its own unique qualities that make it a popular choice among drinkers around the world.


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"Difference Between Sake and Soju." Diffzy.com, 2023. Wed. 04 Oct. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-sake-and-soju>.

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