If you ever find yourself in a bar in Korea, you’d hear it all around you. Sool this, sool that, how much sool can you drink? The question is, what is sool? Why are you now hearing it with increasing frequency around the four corners of the internet.

So, What Is Sool?

Sool is the word in Korean language to describe all alcohols, from whiskey to beer, sake to cider. However, the origins of the word sool run deep in relation to fermented rice alcohols such as makgeolli and cheongju.

What is Sool?

The Origin of the Word

To break it down, it comes from two characters meaning ‘Soo – Water’ and ‘Bool – Fire’.

Soo Bool

When Korean ancestors were brewing with rice, water and nuruk, they couldn’t help but notice that it would bubble as the yeast produced carbon dioxide. Not knowing much about chemistry at the time, they described it as “Fire Water,” or “Soobool.” They believed they had unlocked the mystery of fire from the water.

Over time, this word Soobool evolved into the the word we use today, “Sool.” Even though modern Korean uses it to describe all alcohol, the true origins sprout from rice alcohols. Korean alcohols such as soju and makgeolli working their way into the global vernacular. The word ‘Sool’ is also making its statement as the all encompassing category. Think of how Sake has become synonymous with Japanese rice alcohols.

To learn more about the complexities of each categories of sool, read on