BIT Blog

Virtual Booze Tour: Liquorium / Fermentation Science Museum, S. Korea

Check out this photo essay as part of our "Virtual Booze Tour", this time getting to know the "Liquorium / Fermentation Science Museum" in Chungju, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea. 

SELF-PROCLAIMED the "world's first liquor museum", the Liquorium (리쿼리움 or 술박물관) features two floors of exhibitions you probably won't find anywhere else in Korea. Unlike the Andong Soju Museum or the Baedari Brewery, there's no specific focus on Korea - in fact, one sign calls the place a 'World Liquor Museum' in English.

Start by getting in through the facade of wine barrels - but get a ticket first.

Start by getting in through the facade of wine barrels - but get a ticket first.

Egyptians enjoyed drinking, too.

Egyptians enjoyed drinking, too.

And all this time I had no idea Jesus Christ walked on grapes whilst carrying a cross.

And all this time I had no idea Jesus Christ walked on grapes whilst carrying a cross.

Some machinery having to do with the making of cognac (꼬냑, for those able to read the Korean).

Some machinery having to do with the making of cognac (꼬냑, for those able to read the Korean).

Wine, anyone? The darker-than-I'd like room shows visitors how to interpret a wine label, the pyramids of wine quality, and some geographical information about where various grapes are grown.

Wine, anyone? The darker-than-I'd like room shows visitors how to interpret a wine label, the pyramids of wine quality, and some geographical information about where various grapes are grown.

A chance to see - and smell - whisky (whiskey) as it matures. Don't ask me why the angels fly overhead, though.

A chance to see - and smell - whisky (whiskey) as it matures. Don't ask me why the angels fly overhead, though.

One of the nicest collection of beer steins I've seen in Korea.

One of the nicest collection of beer steins I've seen in Korea.

Can't forget about the stylish beer openers, either.

Can't forget about the stylish beer openers, either.

A rather bizarre wooden sculpture showing drunk people - not pictured in this outside area between the buildings is a chance to figure out what kind of drunk you are. While the descriptions are in Korean, you can make a reasonable guess by looking at the pictures.

A rather bizarre wooden sculpture showing drunk people - not pictured in this outside area between the buildings is a chance to figure out what kind of drunk you are. While the descriptions are in Korean, you can make a reasonable guess by looking at the pictures.

And then there's the section dedicated to Korean alcohols. Plenty of artifacts from the brewing process are around, though the descriptions are mostly in Korean - the price of getting off the beaten tourist path.

And then there's the section dedicated to Korean alcohols. Plenty of artifacts from the brewing process are around, though the descriptions are mostly in Korean - the price of getting off the beaten tourist path.

The last area is a cafe, complete with a selection of wine by the bottle, and some selections by the glass. We tried something called 청명주 (Cheong-myeong-ju), which was a Chungcheongbuk-do heritage. Just call it a rice wine with more maturity than makgeolli. Although 17% ABV, it's drinkable and surprisingly smooth. I wouldn't drink it all the time, but it was a nice change of pace from beer and wine.

Within walking distance is the Jungang tower and Jungang Park - two other tourist attractions within the small rural city. If you wanted, you could make a day trip out of the trio, though by now it was getting to be fairly dark. By itself, the Liquorium needs at least an hour to fully appreciate, but give it another half hour to relax over a glass of wine.


Directions: Getting here via public transportation is a bit complicated. Start from the Chungju Express Bus Terminal - buses leave Seoul to Chungju frequently. This is NOT Cheongju - that's another nearby city. Once at Chungju Express Bus Terminal, exit and turn right, then head to the intersection. Turn right and wait at the bus stop. From this bus stop, jump on bus 400, 404, 411, 412, or 413. They all head to Jungang Tower (중앙탑) but each one comes only 3-6 times a day. Collectively, you have a good chance of catching a bus with a 20-30 minute wait. This is where it gets interesting. The buses seem to stop halfway through the route, then restart 10-15 minutes later. Hang in there - if the bus driver insists you get off, tell him you're going to the Jungang Tower. The buses eventually stop at Jungang Tower near the Liquorium, so get off there. You'll see an entrance and a sign to the Liquorium about 100 meters away from the bus stop - look across the street and down the side street.

It goes without saying that a taxi can get you there, and probably with a bit less trouble. It's about a 15 minute ride to 리쿼리움 (li-kwo-ri-um) or 술박물관 (sool-bak-mul-gwan).

Admission: 4,000 won (adults), 3,000 won (children - under 6 years not allowed inside). Open 10am-6pm (closed every Thursday). Flash photography not permitted (but not prevented).