Andong soju (안동소주; 安東燒酒; in some brand names 安東燒酎) is a kind of distilled soju produced in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea.
Andong soju is a type of strong alcoholic liquor. The process of making the fermentation starter of Andong soju (called nuruk) consists of washing and drying wheat, crushing it, and mixing it with water. It is then filtered, fermented, mixed with hard-boiled rice, and placed in a jug with water for about 15 days.
The aged liquor is then boiled in a sot (hangul: 솥) (a traditional Korean pot). A sojugeori (hangul: 소주걸이) (a traditional Korean tool used for filtering liquor) and a cooling device are placed on the sot, and sirutbun (hangul: 시룻번) dough is used to make an air-tight seal. It is spread on the gap between the sojugeori and the cooling device so that no steam escapes. When the aged liquor is heated, it vaporizes, and the vaporized steam is cooled by the cold water in the cooling device. The Adong soju flows out through the pipe in the sojugeori.
The development of soju in Andong is related to the Yuan Dynasty's movement into the Korean Peninsula in the 13th century. The Yuan Dynasty's supply base was in Andong, and was established to prepare for an expedition to Japan.
Andong soju dates to the Silla period (Silla dynasty (668–935). The distillation skill was developed by alchemists engaged in trade with Arab tribes. Evidence of relations between the Silla and tribes of the Arabian Peninsula includes warrior statues with nonlocal features and Persian glass found at Goereung (hangul: 괘릉; an ancient tomb of Silla in Gyeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do). China had been drinking hard liquor since the Tang Dynasty. With the close relationship between Silla and the Tang Dynasty, it can be assumed that strong liquor was used in Korea since the Silla period.
The artisans of Andong soju are Joe Ok-wha (hangul: 조옥화; hanja: 趙玉花) and Park Jae-seo (hangul: 박재서). These artisans keep the traditional ways of making Andong soju alive through the Korean government's support for discovering traditional liquors.
After the Silla period, the skills of making Andong soju were passed down in Andong. Joe Ok-wha makes and preserves this Andong soju, so she was designated as "Gyeongsangbuk-do intangible cultural property No.12" on May 13, 1987, and as "Korean food grand master No.20" on September 18, 2000. Daughter-in-law Bae Kyong-hwa (hangul: 배경화) and son Kim Yeon-park (hangul: 김연박) continue the tradition.
Park Jae-seo is 25th generation of Park Eung-ju (박응주) (who was the known starter of Park of Bannam (hangul: 반남 박씨)), and is carrying on the legacy of Andong soju that has been passed down in his family for 500 years. For preserving this tradition, Park Jae-seo was designated as "Korean food grand master No.6" in July, 1995.
Andong soju is the only specialty to have two Korean food grand masters, because Joe Ok-wha and Park Jae-seo's way of making it and materials are different from each other.