There are only a few things that can make a man cry and Baiju is certainly one of them. This highly potent potable, is clear distilled spirit from China. The name Baiju means "white spirit" and is usually made from sorghum (Jowar).
Well it is no big surprise now as to why it is the most sold spirit, China being the most populated and this one here is their national drink. Now the next question is why hasn't it been popular around the world? well, as you may have already guessed it is the highly acquired taste of the spirit that needs a trained palette to appreciate it. According to spirit expert, Joshua Bernstein, "Baiju smells like diesel fuel and burns your inside like the worst moonshine." For Indians, maybe a bed Arrack or Feni could be a closer taste reference.
The spirit however is not untouched by recent globalization and love for all things Chinese. Diageo, the spirit giants, which owns Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker whiskey, think that its newest brand, Shui Jing Fang baijiu, ( a non- flavoued variety) can conquer the globe just like some of its other famous brands have in the past. “This is a brand with a lot of potential,” said Gilbert Ghostine, the Singapore-based chief executive for the Asia-Pacific region at Diageo.
Some basics of Baijju
Types Of Baijiu
While baijiu is normally made from sorghum, it can, however, be made from other types of grains. In southern, China it is usually made from glutinous rice. In northern, China it can be made from ingredients, such as barley, oak or wheat.
Baijiu can be either unflavored or flavored, with many different varieties available for each type. Unflavored baijiu include:
· Daqu jiu: fermented a long time and made from sorghum and wheat
· Erguotou: inexpensive and, therefore, more commonly drunk
· Fen jui: the original white alcohol made from sorghum
· Gaoliang jiu: named for a certain type of sorghum
· Jiugui: made from spring water, sorghum, glutinous rice and wheat
· Maotai jiu: a gold medal winner made from sorghum and wheat
· Shuang zheng jiu: a rice wine that is distilled twice.
Flavored types of Baijiu are:
· Guihua chen jiu: distilled with Sweet Osmanthus flowers and has a lower alcohol content
· Meiguilu jiu: distilled with a specific rose and crystal sugar
· Sanhua jiu : made for over 1000 years and has an aroma of a Chinese herb
· To Mei Chiew: made from rice wine with added to mei flowers and crystal sugar syrup. It is aged for more than one year.
· Wujiapi jiu: distilled with Chinese herbal medicine
· Yuk Bing Siu Zau: made from steamed rice. Pork fat is added, then removed.
· Zhuyeqing jiu: translated to mean "bamboo leaf green liquor."
The cost of Baijiu varies widely according to the quality of the drink. For example, while the cheapest types cost pennies, the most expensive cost thousands of dollars per bottle.
How To Drink Baijiu
Baijiu is normally served at room temperature or warm in a small ceramic bottle, then poured into a small cup or shot glass. Baijiu sets, sold in specialty shops or Asian markets, generally include baijiu, a ceramic bottle and small glasses.
Baijiu is often served with food, but it is important that the proper baijiu is served with each meal. For example, Fen jiu is appropriate for instant noodles, dry biscuits or fried rice, while Jianzhuang best accompanies animal feet, claws and paws.
Making a toast or gesture to the other comrades at the table and drinking with them is the correct etiquette when drinking baijiu. When a glass is empty, it is polite to fill the glasses starting with the person with the most money and filling ones own glass last. It is considered rude to excuse yourself from joining in when offered a glass. After someone has filled a glass, it should be held with two hands, one hand holding the bottom so that it will not be dropped. Also, its considered rude to be the first one to leave for washroom, in midst of a drinking session.
So, bottoms up or “Gan bei!” As your Chinese friend might say!!!