Basics of Baijiu, the razor-sharp drink from China

Baijiu is among the most popular and yet least known drinks in world. This drink has a 9000 years old history, originating in China. It is known to have originated in Jiahu region of China, where the settlers used to prepare alcoholic drinks using rice, honey and fruits.

However, even if those drinks were the earliest predecessors of Baijiu, it rose to prominence in modern ages back in 1972. It was when Premier Zhou Enlai offered it to Nixon, on the latter’s visit to China. It gained more popularity in the west with growing business as well as diplomatic relationships with China.

Literally, Baijiu means “clear liquor”. It has a very strong taste and smell, which is quite unfamiliar. It is prepared with sorghum grains and a special material for fermentation called jiuqu. It is mixed with water and buried underground for more than a month up to 30 years. The taste of this drink depends on Jiuqu, which has different flavor in different parts of China.

Being ingrained in Chinese culture, it was named the national drink of China in 1950s. Maotai, a special brand of this drink is considered as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of China and is well protected as a secret recipe.

This Chinese blend of alcohol is primarily found in four types. It is divided as per the fragrance or aroma. The Rice aroma is regarded as the lightest one, with a sweet and floral flavor. It is prepared in the areas of southern Guangxi, using the waters from river Li. A popular rice aroma brand is Guilin Sanhua.

The next type is of Light aroma. However, its ABV can be as high as 56% and it is bottled in a square shaped glassware. It is popular in north of China is areas surrounding Beijing.

The third type is with a strong aroma. It has a complex flavor and is prepared from two different types of grains. It is fermented in mud pits. The fourth type is the Sauce aroma, which has the flavor of soy sauce. It is the most expensive type of Baijiu, Moutai being the most popular one. Moutai is produced only in Guizhou province following a secret labor-intensive process.

Drinking Baijiu is a privilege in China as it is considered as a heritage beverage. It involves particular method of celebration and ways to drink. Baijiu is getting popularity all over the globe gradually as one of the classiest alcoholic drinks.