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Moon Soju is the first Canadian-made soju to hit the market, now officially sold in the LCBO after its humble beginnings in 2017.
Soju is one of the highest-selling spirits in the world. Deeply embedded within Korean culture, this clear, crisp beverage is often labelled as the "Korean Vodka" for its neutral taste. Over the years, it has gained mass popularity in North America.
The soju market is dominated by longstanding companies recognized by their green bottles who've been around for decades, all produced in Korea -- now, Canada has its own line of soju to taste.
Co-founder Alex Safir describes the difference of Moon Soju compared to existing brands as being defined by the liquor's simple ingredients and distillation process. The product is gluten-free as it's made with a non-GMO corn base and the alcohol is distilled six times, providing a softer taste for the palate and a cleaner burn.
As a result of this method of creation, Moon Soju has a distinct smoothness to every sip and the goal is to be able to adapt it to pair with a broader range of dishes without overpowering the food itself.
Safir hopes that Moon Soju will thrive in its competitive market and build upon the sense of community and comfort that soju traditionally provides.
Alongside those values, Safir says that the core of the business revolves around family and growth, with Moon Soju being their connector.
With experience in the liquor industry derived from his father's long-term involvement in the alcohol and beverage market over the years, Safir, who works as an osteopathic practitioner, has spent a decade helping his father build upon his vodka line, inspiring Safir to bring his own passion for soju to life.
Despite having a hand in the creation process of his father's Canadian Vodka, Safir wanted to be able to make and stand behind a product of his own.
"Being immigrants to Canada, a story much like so many others in our country, we came here to build a better future – but it was tough. I started helping him with his operations in the hopes that I can help the business grow to the point where I can afford to retire my parents. To be fully transparent, my passion at the time did not revolve around the alcohol or the beverage business, but it was a conduit for helping my family. And the more involved I became in the business, the more I started to enjoy the challenges of growing something that you build from the ground up. Despite all the associated challenges, having my parents be able to take a slight breather when the business was growing, even small victories, ignited a further passion to create something," Safir reflects.
One of the many reasons behind how and why Moon Soju came to be is as a result of Safir's admiration and connection to Korean cuisine and culture, as well as soju's notoriety as a spirit that gathers loved ones together, an element that as mentioned, greatly resonates with Safir's values.
"The way it brought people together made it the clear choice. Although a lot has changed since the company was originally created, the goal of giving people more choice in what they drink, and bringing those same family values to a larger demographic remained strong," says Safir.
Keeping with the theme of giving people more choice, you can also look forward to a line of flavoured soju's dropping later this year. As they're still in the development phases of this product, they're very open to working on creating soju flavours that other customers have in mind that you wouldn't typically be able to find. Safir notes that since they're such a small local distillery, they can shift and pivot a lot easier with product offerings, wanting to make sure that the products they make are products that people actually enjoy and want more of.
Look out for Moon Soju at an LCBO near you and follow them on Instagram to learn more about how Moon Soju came to be through a soon to be launched social media campaign that the company hopes can also aid in facilitating the growth of others in their own journeys in the alcohol and beverage industry.