China’s National Liquor Has Landed in the U.S. | Partner Tip

It’s the only spirit served to distinguished guests at official government banquets in China. Now you can also serve that same spirit to your finest guests at your own bar.

Introducing Moutai, the legendary baijiu from the People’s Republic of China.

Baijiu is beginning to make in-roads in bars across the United States. The distinctive spirit is made with sorghum, a grass in the sugarcane family.

To create Moutai baijiu, organic sorghum soaked and steamed, then the sorghum is mounded into piles as large as haystacks. To begin the fermentation process, aged ground wheat, known as qu (distiller’s yeast), is added as a starter culture.

The inoculated sorghum grains are then placed into pits lined with stone and sealed with mud caps. The grains ferment in the pits for around 30 days, after which time the mud cap is removed and the grains are placed into giant steamers. Water is filtered up through the fermented grains, picking up alcohol as it goes. A gooseneck system creates condensation, and the resulting alcohol is collected and the heads and tails cut out.

The haystack, pit-fermentation, steam-distillation cycle is repeated seven times for each batch, with fresh sorghum and qu added before each steam distillation to make up for any volume lost as the grains compress. The entire production process takes about a year. The base liquor is then aged in one-ton, terracotta urns for at least 3 years. The urns are carefully chosen for blending the final product: Like with non-vintage whisky, the goal is consistency. Spent grains from the steamer are mixed back into a freshly harvested grains, and the process begins again. For Moutai, there are about 200 base baijius in every blend. Moutai is considered a liquid food as it comprises nothing but distilled spirits—not event-distilled water as with other spirits—all produced from organic sorghum by the Kwiechow Moutai distillery.

See for yourself just how special Moutai is.

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