Ultra Vires


A Statistical Analysis of Soju Flavours

Trying every flavour so you don’t have to (you’re welcome!)


Among the pantheon of traditional alcoholic beverages that hail from the Korean peninsula, soju occupies a singularly eminent position, often eliciting appreciative sentiments from connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. The objective of this study was to try every single flavour of soju available in LCBO and determine the best flavour of soju based on subjective and objective criteria. We sampled nine different flavors of soju, including peach, green grape, plum, strawberry, yogurt, green apple, apple mango, blueberry, and citron. We rated each flavour on a scale of 1 to 10 for aroma, taste, sweetness, bitterness, good vibes, and bad vibes. We also measured the alcohol and sugar content of each flavor using a hydrometer and a refractometer. (That was a lie, we didn’t do that.) We then performed statistical analysis to compare the standardized mean ratings of each flavour on a 10-point scale. The results showed that citron soju had the highest overall rating (8.425), followed by plum soju (8.375) and green grape soju (8.125). The three lowest rated flavors were yogurt soju (7.525), followed by blueberry soju (5.000) and apple mango soju (1.000). 


We postulate that the consumption of soju, especially when ingested in considerable volumes, possesses the inherent capability to precipitate pronounced states of inebriation in individuals, manifesting as perceptual alterations and discernible cognitive impairments. We further postulate that soju is yummy.


  • Participants purchased every flavour of soju available at the LCBO: apple mango, citron, grape, apple, yogurt, peach, plum, blueberry, and strawberry. Unfortunately, grapefruit was out of stock, but nevertheless, we persevered. Also, we forgot about the original (no added flavour) until after the experiment, but we can confidently say that it’s gross anyways.
  • Participants played a round of cards with a control group.
  • Participants determined the order in which they would try the flavours. To avoid bias in later samples (assuming that drunkenness would influence participants’ enjoyment), every participant was assigned a different order. 
  • Participants tried flavours according to their assigned order. To ensure safety of participants, tasting was limited to half a shot of each flavour (with exceptions for those with higher alcohol tolerance). Note: some participants later became overzealous and drank more than their allotted amount.
  • After every shot, participants wrote down comments and scored the flavour out of 10. 
  • Comments and scores were collected and analyzed through statistical analysis. Raw scores were converted into individual z-scores, which were subsequently mapped onto a 10-point scale to ensure standardization and aesthetic presentation. 
  • Participants played another round of cards with the control group and compared their performance. Some participants did notably poorer, while others seemed to improve under the influence of alcohol. Performance of the control group varied. Actually, we’re not really sure what the card game had to do with ranking the flavour of the soju…


Soju is a really great drink, but trying so many flavours all at once is no easy feat. Maybe we’re just lightweights, but the experiment’s participants  definitely felt the alcohol kick in somewhere throughout the process. Taking nine shots back to back is not recommended for the faint of heart. 

Throughout our labours, however, our study generated a few surprising results. Citron, for instance, is not typically a flavour that one thinks of as being especially good when it comes to soju. In fact, it might be one of the flavours that most people just forget about. Yet, it was a unanimous crowd pleaser; three out of four of the participants ranked it as being either the first or the second best flavour. It was light, refreshing, and delightfully lemon-y without being overly sour. This is definitely a must-try.

Plum and green grape too turned out to be bussin’ flavours. Plum, in fact, is one of the new flavour offerings available at LCBO alongside grapefruit. It was sweet and fresh, though not particularly plum-tasting. Maybe it’s because all the plums that the authors have eaten recently have been quite sour? Regardless, it’s a fun new flavour to try amidst the range of classics. 

Speaking of classics, who can talk about soju without talking about green grape? It’s a wonder how the makers managed to create an alcoholic grape flavour that actually tastes like green grapes. Something about this flavour just doesn’t feel purple, from what our science tells us. Once again, it was the perfect amount of sweet without being cloying, and it tasted fresh enough to seem like adult grape juice. Green grape has been with you since the beginning, and it will be with you until the end. It promises you that. 

Here is where we enter the middle tiers. Well, we say that it’s the middle tiers, but the flavours were all quite close in score. Despite it being ranked 4th, 5th, and 6th respectively, peach (8.050), green apple (7.725), and strawberry (7.575) were each perfectly adequate flavours—albeit maybe with something a little less yummy about them. One participant, for instance, found peach to be “weirdly sour.” Green apple felt a little too astringent with not quite enough sweetness, and strawberry was good but… just not as standout as the medallers, you know? Maybe if they were mixed into cocktails, their scores would improve. Recipes to follow in a further study. 

Alright, now we’re getting into the spicy part: the three bad flavours. Here, our science-o-meter indicated bad vibes with each of the following flavours, yogurt being the least serious offender. It’s like Yakult, but a little too sweet, perhaps? Still, points for bringing our favourite Asian childhood beverage alive to fit our current degen needs.  

Blueberry, however, is where the real drop in ratings happened. Whatever this blueberry flavour was, it did not taste real. It did taste kind of blue, but we would not characterize it as being a berry, per se. It was just a sweet…blue…thing? It very much tasted like it was cooked up in a lab somewhere, and the person who made it clearly had not really tasted blueberries before. Definitely not a flavour that we would repurchase or even recommend to anyone. 

Unsurprisingly, apple mango came in dead last in the flavour-profile rankings. One participant noted to the group that apple mango tastes like “that one cough syrup” prior to cracking open the bottle, so expectations were already low. But it was truly an unfortunate surprise when another participant noted, upon trying the flavour, that it actually tasted like celery. It was at that moment that everyone could only taste celery. Why does apple mango taste like celery? This may be a pertinent topic for future study. 

Possible sources of error

  • Despite the plethora of flavours now available at the LCBO, this “comprehensive” review was not truly comprehensive, as we were not able to get grapefruit flavour (our bag was too heavy already) and we straight up forgot about original. A quick Google search also informed us that there are more flavours available outside of Ontario, including pomegranate, pineapple, and melon, all of which sound pretty tasty. Curse the overly restrictive import policies of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario! 
  • There were four esteemed scientists brought onto this study, each of whom had undoubtedly formed a number of preconceptions regarding each of the soju flavours based on their in-depth and repeated encounters with this alcoholic drink. Is there an administrative law remedy about fairness to be sought here? Maybe.


Our hypothesis was correct. We did get drunk. The top-ranked flavours included citron, plum, and green grape. The most unpopular flavour, by a unanimous vote, was apple mango. One participant was both shocked and appalled that yogurt and strawberry placed so low on the rankings, but this is unfortunately a democracy, so it is what it is. Nonetheless, this experiment was a fun way to spend a Friday evening. If you and your friends are looking for an excuse to consume copious amounts of alcohol (as if law school alone weren’t enough to warrant copious consumption), we recommend trying this rigorous scientific experiment yourselves—consider it peer review. Cheers!

Materials required for the experiment. Credit: Amy Kwong

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