Makgeolli vs Amazake: What’s the Difference?

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These two fermented rice drinks are practically the same, right?

Makgeolli and amazake are both traditional rice-based drinks from Japan and Korea, respectively. Both are made from rice, water, and yeast, but makgeolli has more alcohol and a stronger flavor, while amazake is often non-alcoholic and has a sweeter taste. Makgeolli is also thicker than amazake, which is more watery.

Let’s look at all the differences so you can decide which one to try first.

Amazake vs Makgeolli

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Amazake vs Makgeolli: What’s the Difference?

  • Both amazake and makgeolli are traditional rice-based drinks.
  • Amazake is made by adding koji (a type of fungus) to cooked rice and water, then leaving it to ferment for a short period of time.
  • Makgeolli, on the other hand, is made by mixing steamed rice, water, and nuruk (a mixture of grains and enzymes), then leaving it to ferment for a longer period of time.
  • The rice used in amazake is typically white and sticky, while the rice used in makgeolli can be regular or slightly sticky.
  • Amazake is usually sweeter than makgeolli, as it contains more sugar due to the shorter fermentation time.
  • Makgeolli, on the other hand, has a lower alcohol content than amazake, typically ranging from 6-8%.
  • While both drinks are traditionally made at home, they are now sold commercially in Japan and Korea.

Flavor and Texture

  • Amazake has a sweet, creamy flavor and a thick, pudding-like texture.
  • Makgeolli has a tangy, slightly sour flavor and a fizzy, cloudy texture.
  • Unlike amazake, makgeolli can be dry and firm or sweet and sticky, depending on the rice used and the fermentation process.
  • Overall, amazake is considered a dessert drink, while makgeolli is more of an everyday drink.

Health Benefits

  • Both amazake and makgeolli are considered to be good for your health due to their high energy content and active enzymes.
  • Amazake is often recommended as a natural sweetener and energy booster, while makgeolli is said to improve digestion and control blood sugar levels.
  • Amazake is also said to be good for your skin, as it contains amino acids that help to improve skin elasticity.
  • Makgeolli, on the other hand, is said to be good for your liver and immune system due to its high antioxidant content.

Which One to Try?

  • If you’re looking for a sweet, creamy drink that’s ideal for dessert, amazake is the way to go.
  • If you want a tangy, slightly sour drink that’s good for everyday consumption, makgeolli is the better choice.
  • Ultimately, the choice between amazake and makgeolli comes down to personal preference and taste.
  • If you’re new to both drinks, it’s recommended to try both and see which one you prefer.
  • If you’re unable to make your own, both drinks can be found in Japanese and Korean grocery stores, as well as online.

Remember to always check the alcohol content before consuming and enjoy responsibly!

Edit: It’s important to mention that when making amazake or makgeolli at home, it’s crucial to be careful with the containers used for fermentation. Steel or clay containers are typically recommended, as they allow for proper air flow and temperature control. Additionally, excess rice or nuruk should be removed from the mixture to ensure the ultimate flavor and texture.

What is Amazake?

Amazake is a traditional Japanese drink that literally translates to “sweet sake.” However, unlike regular sake, amazake is a non-alcoholic beverage that is typically consumed during the winter months as a comforting and complimentary drink to a meal. It is made from fermented rice and has a thick consistency that is best served chilled.

Amazake in Japanese Culture

Amazake is commonly seen at celebrations and festivals in Japan, such as the Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival) and New Year’s celebrations. It is also a favorite drink among those growing curious about natural and delicious beverages. In addition, amazake is used in cooking as a natural sweetener and savory flavor enhancer.

What is Makgeolli?

Makgeolli has a long history in Korea, dating back to the Three Kingdoms era (57 BC – 668 AD). It started as a way for farmers to use up leftover rice and has since become a popular drink throughout the country. Makgeolli was even used as a currency during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897).

If you’re interested in trying makgeolli, here are some helpful tips:

  • Look for makgeolli in Korean restaurants or specialty stores.
  • Try different types of makgeolli to find the one you like best.
  • Remember that homemade versions will often have a more complex flavor than commercial versions.
  • Makgeolli is best served cold and shaken well before drinking.
  • Be careful not to drink too much, as the alcohol content can be higher than you expect.

Makgeolli Alcohol Content

Makgeolli is a traditional Korean rice wine that is sweet and slightly fizzy. It is widely available in Korea and is becoming more popular in other countries. Makgeolli is a type of rice wine that is lower in alcohol content than other types of wine. The alcohol content of Makgeolli usually ranges from 6% to 8%, which is a bit lower than regular beer.

How is Makgeolli Made?

Makgeolli is made by mixing steamed rice, water, and a type of yeast called nuruk. The mixture is left to ferment for a few days, which leaves behind a slightly sweet and tangy liquid. Makgeolli is usually served in clay pots and is gently poured into small bowls. When making Makgeolli, it is important to be careful and make sure that the mixture is stored in a warm and dark place.

What is the Makgeolli Alcohol Content Compared to Other Types of Alcohol?

Compared to other types of alcohol, Makgeolli has a lower alcohol content. For example, white wine usually contains around 12% alcohol, while dry red wine can contain up to 14% alcohol. Beer typically has an alcohol content of around 4% to 6%. Makgeolli’s alcohol content is similar to that of hard cider.

Is Makgeolli Worth Trying?

Makgeolli is definitely worth trying if you are interested in traditional Korean drinks. It has a unique taste and is a good alternative to other types of alcohol. Makgeolli is also relatively inexpensive and is sold in cans in many local stores. Some famous brands of Makgeolli include Dongdongju and Baekseju. If you are looking for an ideal recipe to try, adding ginger to Makgeolli is said to improve the taste and provide additional health benefits.

What is the Overall Makgeolli Drinking Experience?

Drinking Makgeolli is a complex experience that involves more than just the taste. The drink is served in small bowls and is gently poured into the bowl to avoid leaving excess sediment in the clay pot. Makgeolli is a slightly fizzy drink that contains grain and sugar, which gives it a slightly sticky texture. The drink is also slightly cloudy due to the fermentation process. Makgeolli is a good drink to enjoy with friends and is perfect for a night out.

Amazake Alcohol Content: How Does It Compare to Makgeolli?

Amazake is a traditional Japanese drink made from fermented rice. Unlike sake, which is a distilled version of rice wine, amazake is a low-alcohol beverage that is typically consumed as a sweet, mild, and refreshing drink. The alcohol content of amazake is usually lower than that of sake and ranges from 0.5% to 5%. This makes it an excellent choice for people who want to enjoy a great-tasting drink without getting drunk.

Comparing Amazake and Makgeolli Alcohol Content

Makgeolli is a Korean rice wine that is similar to amazake in many ways. It is also made from fermented rice and has a mild, watering taste. However, the alcohol content of makgeolli is typically higher than that of amazake, ranging from 6% to 8%. This makes it a bit of a heavyweight compared to amazake.

Amazake and Makgeolli: Which One Should You Choose?

If you’re looking for a low-alcohol drink with a mild taste, amazake is an excellent choice. It’s perfect for people who want to enjoy a refreshing drink without getting drunk. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a stronger drink with a bit of a kick, makgeolli is a great option. Just be prepared for a higher alcohol percentage and the possibility of a hangover or upset stomach.


The differences between makgeolli and amazake are subtle, but now you know there are some key differences to look out for. Makgeolli gives you a slightly sour taste and a fizzy texture, but amazake has this undeniable sweet and creaminess about it.

Both are pretty delicious and healthy, so it’s up to you to decide which one you like best!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.