Mungyeong City is nestled at a mouth of the Sobaek Mountain range. Splitting off from the Taebaek Mountain range towards southwest across the center of the peninsula, the city has played the gate for people from all four directions to and fro from all corners of the nation. The taste of the water in the region were so good that one of the three most famous liquors of Joseon period came from this city named ‘Mungyeong Hosanchun’ that has hundreds years of family brewing tradition of Hwang Hui. North Gyeongsang Province designated the liquor as the No.18 Intangible Asset of the province in 1991. This makes us imagine that there were, and still are, more quality liquors produced in the region.
Indeed. Mungyeong Saejae Brewery in Maseong-myeon boasts one hundred years of its tradition in rice wine making if not hundreds of years. The water used here comes from rock water below 198 meters of Paekhwa Mountain.
Over the four generations, the family has run the brewery for 100 years and it is currently managed by Sanghwa Lee. The history goes back to early 1900 when the family hung out its first signboard ‘Jumchon Takju’. The name changed to Heungduck Brewery in the 60s, Heungduck Cooperative Brewery in the 80s and then to the current name by Lee’s father Bokman Lee (third generation).
“To keep the family business for 100 years, we have valued ‘trust’ more than anything else. We do not much care how many people drink our liquor but whether we stick to our guns at all times.” says Lee.
Under the rice wine brand ‘Manbok’, the reverse of his father’s name, the family is brewing three rice wines: Manbok Saeng Takbaeki, Manbok Saeng Gunbaeju and Manbok Saeng Omija Takbaeki.
Manbok Saeng Takbaeki is made of 100% Korean rice and it gives a clean and fresh finish. Manbok Saeng Gunbaeju is added with licorice and elm and is often appeared on ritual tables. Manbok Saeng Omija Takbaeki is added with schizandra (omija), a specialty fruit of the region, and is sought after by young female consumers. You can expect two more rice wines in the coming years themed on balloon flower and blueberry.
The brewery’s strict hygiene and safety management received a Clean Manufacturer Certificate in 2012 from the Ministry of Employment and Labor and the Korea Occupational Safety & Health Agency respectably. The photo catalysis sterilization in particular deals with harmful substances in the air and on the surfaces of the production facilities to make sure the quality of the liquor at all times.
Mungyeong Saejae Brewery won Traditional Rice Wine at the 2022 Korea Innovation Winner. <PowerKorea>
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