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Issue 124 - Seoul Searching

Whisky Magazine Issue 124
December 2014

 

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Seoul Searching

Joshua gives us an introduciton to South Korea's bar scene

South Korea isn't the first place you'd think of for Scotch, but a growing interest in single malts, and more recently bourbon, is driving a bustling bar scene. While the rice based liquor soju remains the national drink of choice, young professionals, especially women are seeking out speakeasies and whisky bars to learn about this fine drink.

In the last three years there's been a shift away from cheap blended whisky drunk in hostess bars to single malts consumed in civilised establishments. Such is the enthusiasm, that Koreans are willing to pay a hefty premium for scotch. In many establishments prices start at 25,000 won (£15) a dram. Prices are high thanks to government taxes up to 180 per cent and stiff business overheads.

A predilection for rare older vintages is also driving collecting and entrepreneurship as bars compete to offer something different. Here are eight of our recommended watering holes.

1Coffee Bar K
89-20 Cheongdam-dong, Kangnam-gu
Definitely more upscale than your local Starbucks, Coffee Bar K was the first establishment to cater to the needs of discerning Scotch drinkers in Seoul. 500 single malts are on the menu as well as Japanese whiskies, 200 cocktails and a wine list that features rare older vintages and fine champagne. The mixologists here have won many global competitions, lived or studied in Japan, and possess a deep knowledge of Japanese whiskies, spirits and cocktails. Book an early seat at the bar (before 9pm), to mix with high flying ...

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