The most popular liquor in the world last year—claiming the top spot at 71 million cases sold—is a brand you’ve probably never heard of. In fact, it’s a type of liquor unfamiliar to most Americans entirely.
The liquor is called soju, and it’s a Korean rice spirit that does less than five percent of its sales in the U.S. Because soju is clear is colorless, it’s often compared to vodka. But the spirit’s distinguishing quality is that it typically only has around 20 percent ABV (although some brands contain as much as 45 percent). For this reason, soju is slowly starting to gain popularity in the U.S. because its low alcohol content means restaurants can serve it with just a beer and wine license.
Soju dominates the liquor market in South Korea, and the world’s leading brand, Jinro—together with second-place brand Chum Churum—combine to make the Soju third most popular liquor sold in the world, trailing only behind whiskey and vodka:
Of the top 20 liquors sold (by volume), only one U.S. brand cracks the top 20: Jack Daniels.
For the full list of the 100 best-selling liquor brands in the world, head over to VinePair.