Collection: Baijiu 白酒

Baijiu is a clear, distilled, grain-based liquor, which is typically between 40 and 60 per cent alcohol by volume, comparable to whisky (which explains whisky’s recent popularity in China). The most common ingredients are sorghum or glutinous rice, although maize, barley, wheat, millet and other grains are also used. Bai jiu is revered for its intriguing aromas and mouthfeel, and the finest can be extremely nuanced on the nose and the palate, with lingering fragrances and a very long finish. Thus bai jiu is often classified by its predominant aroma type. When bai jiu is poured, often to accompany a banquet, the aroma immediately fills the air and seems to integrate with and enhance the aromas of the food, hence its wide appeal as the most popular liquor in China.

Bai jiu is the most consumed spirit in the world: over 10 billion litres are drunk every year within China (versus just over 4 billion litres of vodka drunk globally in a year). It remains fairly unknown in the West, however, partly because it is an acquired taste as it can come across as fiery and harsh to the uninitiated palate. High quality bai jiu undergo very intricate and artisan processes and tend to be consumed domestically where supply could barely keep up with demand. They commandlarge price premiums to even the most expensive whiskies.


 Excerpt from The Chinese Wine Renaissance: A Wine Lover’s Companion.