About Baijiu

Traditionally, baijiu was used to celebrate important events and welcome newcomers. Today, baijiu is a symbol for diplomacy and a way to celebrate life. It is consumed during celebratory situations as well as for casual daily consumption.

Baijiu has a verifiable history of over 600 hundred years, but a variety of historical records indicate that it has been central to the Chinese culture for much longer. Some scholars suggest that elements of what makes baijiu today have been in existence for over 2000 years.

HOW IT’S PRODUCED

Baijiu is made through the brewing and distillation of grains.

1

Fermented grains are heated with a special distiller until the liquid turns to steam.

2

The steam is collected and allowed to cool.

3

The result? A colorless yet fragrant liquor but at a higher alcohol content of 60% or more.

WHERE IT’S FROM

The Sichuan and Guizhou provinces in southern China.

Why is this area the best for producing Baijiu?

1. Mild climate all year round

2. Fertile soil fed by natural springs from the nearby mountains

ONE OF THE TOP FOUR DISTILLED LIQUORS IN THE WORLD

  • COGNAC

    Originates from surrounding areas of Cognac in south-west France.

    Made from: The distillation of wines made primarily from grapes named Ugni Blanc. The cognac goes through strict regulations such as the choice of copper pot stills, double distillation, selected grains of French oak barrels, limited processes and manipulations of the distillates, etc.

  • WHISKEY

    Originates from the highlands of Scotland.

    Made from: Barley malt or grain through fermentation and distillation, Whiskey is aged in oak barrels to achieve its unique smoky aroma.

  • VODKA

    Originates from Poland.

    Made from: Grains such as wheat, rye, corn or potatoes through dilution with birch charcoal. It is distilled multiple times in order to achieve neutrality.

  • BAIJIU

    Originates from China.

    Baijiu is distinct from Brandy, Scotch Whiskey and Vodka because of its use of distilling yeast during the distillation process.  It is also the only one to use solid grain material in the fermentation process.

HOW TO DRINK BAIJIU

To properly understand Baijiu, it is necessary to consider the color, aroma and taste. 
The integration of these three senses will determine the style and quality of the Baijiu.

Color

COLOR

In a well-lit area, hold your glass against a white background and check for:

1. Glossiness: It should be bright and shiny

2. Transparency: It should be clear, with no suspended particles.

AROMA

The best tool for testing the aroma of Baijiu is by smelling it. The quality of the Baijiu can be determined by the purity and lasting fragrance.

A defining quality that is common to all super and ultra-premium baijiu is that even at high ABV of 52%, the scent and the sensation of ethanol is nearly undetectable by the human nose. This increases the drinking experience and pleasure.

Complex

Characterized by a very masculine but smooth taste. It is well balanced with long finishes. Requires the most complex fermentation process of all the aroma types.

Strong

Characterized by the complex floral aroma and fruity taste. Fermented in aged cellars, it has a concentrated and rich flavor. Most of the Baijiu produced in Sichuan are of this classification.

Mild

Clear, mellow and soft in taste, Mild Aroma Baijiu (also called Fen Aroma) uses a special steaming technique and is fermented in underground jars. It has a more neutral taste and is a great choice as the base for cocktails.

Rice

Sweet, smooth and soft. It’s a classic southern style of Baijiu.The most famous example of Rice Aroma Baijiu is produced in Guilin, where rice is a staple of the diet.

Other

Some Baijiu are produced with hybrid fermentation and distilling processes, or a mixture of different kinds of raw materials. These create aromas that borrow elements from other aroma categories, or create new aromas altogether.

Taste

TASTE

Diluted drinks are typically not desirable in the Chinese culture which is why, traditionally, the baijiu drinking experience was intended to be an exciting one.

This important step in the evaluation of Baijiu should be conducted according to aroma types discussed above.

Each sip of the Baijiu should be allowed to slowly move through the whole mouth, starting with the tip of the tongue, then moving onto the sides, and finally reaching the throat.

Quality indicators: The harmony of the flavors, strength and smoothness.

BRINGING BAIJIU TO AMERICA

Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits

 

LEARN MORE ABOUT BAIJIU

Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits

Drawing on interviews with baijiu aficionados, distillers and key players in the alcoholic beverage industry, Derek Sandhaus introduces the history and development of alcohol in China—the birthplace of grain-based alcohol.

The book includes information on distillation and production processes, the landscape of the industry today, and a page-by-page guide to the major varieties, distilleries and brands all feature in Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits.

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