Baijiu Basics

7 min read

All are some of the basics of baijiu, or some of my own thinking:.

  1. The history of Baijiu is only a short 400-500 years or so, with its origins in the Arabian stills brought by the Mongols on their western expedition. Essentially, liquor is not much earlier than the introduction of chili and corn into China, so you see what 900 years old cellar (a Tuo), what the Tang Dynasty court wine (a Nanchun), and even Moutai’s “Wu Di Ganmei’s” statement are all piercing, and the real history of liquor is not half related, are marketing gimmicks, do not take seriously.

  2. Although the distillation process is not a local invention, but liquor is indeed China’s national essence, authentic Chinese wine. Its bent plus solid state fermentation process can be said to be almost unique in the world, in the manufacture of high purity alcohol at the same time, fermentation to produce a large number of complex aromatic substances. This is completely different from Western distilled spirits, which use external processes (peat, barrel aging) to add flavor.

  3. Because the aroma of liquor is completely determined by the ratio of the fermented crops and the solid-state fermentation process, the flavor of liquor is determined the moment it is distilled. The aging time of baijiu is much shorter than that of whisky and brandy, which require barrels to enhance their aromas.

  4. The aging time of the base wine of soy sauce Moutai is 3+1=4 years, while the strong fragrance Guojiao 1573 is only about 2-3 years, and its top Chinese taste does not exceed 5 years of aging. Therefore, the so-called 10 years, 15 years and 20 years of aging in a large number of liquor brands is a kind of marker to distinguish the quality of liquor, and has nothing to do with the real aging time of base wine.

  5. The only way to change the flavor of liquor is by blending, which is the most important later part of the liquor process. By blending, base wines of different years, different batches_rounds, different fermentation layers, different fermentation times_or processes, are blended with each other to complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses. A good distillery must have a top blender, because this step is the finishing touch.

  6. The history of the process of blending liquor is even shorter, probably less than 100 years, and it was only after 1949 that the process of blending liquor began to be truly systematic, modernized and industrialized.

  7. Along with the blending process came the degradation process. In the early days, baijiu was distilled and drunk, and the original strong/clear spiced wine could reach 70 degrees, and the original soy sauce spiced wine could reach 55 degrees or more. In recent decades, the mainstream degree of baijiu has been decreasing, with 50 degrees dominating. In the future, it should be even lower, with 40-45 degrees as the mainstream, in line with foreign distilled spirits. In addition, it is not as simple as adding water to reduce the degree of liquor, because the direct addition of water will cause precipitation of organic matter, China’s first attack on the low degree of liquor technology (38 degrees) is to the 1980s, the creation of this process is Zhang Gong distillery.

  8. All liquor is “grain liquor”, and even cooking alcohol is fermented from grain, but in liquid form. The process that really defines traditional liquor should be called “solid grain fermentation”. 9.

  9. So, does solid fermented liquor necessarily taste better than liquid fermented liquor? Totally wrong. Because of the purity of the fermentation process, the liquid method produces high purity edible alcohols, and miscellaneous alcohols are suppressed to undetectable levels. Take the harmful substance methanol as an example, a large number of solid method processes come with some fermentation by-products methanol instead because of the need to control the production of aroma presenting substances, for example, the methanol content of Moutai_Wuliangye is generally around 0.2g_L, a value much higher than qualified edible alcohol.

  10. If you drink a bottle of wine and experience severe discomfort and headache. Then the biggest possibility is that you drank fake wine (industrial alcohol), or low-end solid method liquor. On the contrary, qualified liquid method cooking alcohol has a clean taste and low impurities.

  11. The aroma of liquor is a spectrum, and different aromas are not insurmountable. For example, in the strong fragrance, Sichuan strong fragrance of single grain process Luzhou Laojiao and multi-grain process Wuliangye is very different, and different five grain strong fragrance is also very different from each other.

  12. For example, the style of Xifeng is between Qingxiang and strong fragrance, while Baiyunbian is on the strong fragrance side of the sauce some.

  13. Chinese baijiu, because of the temperature, increases in fermentation process and complexity from north to south in that order. North of the Yellow River there are almost no particularly high-quality liquors. North China, on the other hand, is dominated by clear aromas, and further south, to the Jianghuai, where strong aromas prevail. The two lakes are the transition between the north and the south, with a combination of aromas predominating. Further south in Hunan, the region is a high-quality region for saucy white wine, represented by the Chishui River area. In the five wine evaluation sessions in China, all the other Chinese famous wine designations of liquor are in the area south of the Yellow River, except for Fenjiu on the Yellow River.

  14. The evolution of the liquor process is also basically based on the clear aroma - strong aroma - sauce aroma, with the clear aroma process represented by Fenjiu being the most original and basic process of liquor. The process of clear spices, represented by Fenjiu, is the most primitive and basic process.

  15. There is a common saying that baijiu fermentation is the bone of the wine, that is, the big bent bent medicine is what determines the general outline of the style of a baijiu. This statement is true to a certain extent. For example, the higher the temperature of the bent, the greater the amount of bent used in brewing, and the more complex the aroma of the resulting liquor. This is also why saucy spirits are heavy, and also explains why the aroma of Wuliangye has some saucy characteristics. The reason also lies in the fact that saucy baijiu utilizes high-temperature bent-making, and the bent-making temperature of Wuliangye’s bag bent is also very high.

  16. Sichuan and Guizhou provinces are the treasure house of Chinese liquor because of the unique microbial fermentation conditions, Pixian douban, Sichuan kimchi is also because of this reason. Sichuan Yibin, Luzhou, Mianzhu, Qionglai, these are the origin of China’s top strong spirits. Among them, Luzhou has both strong aromas (Laojiao) and sauces (Langjiu) because it has part of the Chishui River basin.

  17. In contrast, the top soy sauce spirits must be produced in Maotai town because of its complex and demanding process, but because of the scarcity of land in Maotai town, most of the distilleries are now located elsewhere in Renhuai, or in the neighboring counties and cities in the Chishui River basin.

  18. Baijiu is what it is called in mainland China. In fact, Baijiu was first called shochu (Ming and Qing dynasties), or Daqujiu (Republic of China, Taiwan). In contrast, baijiu in the Ming and Qing dynasties was a white rice wine with a short fermentation time. In the past, when Sanlian Life Weekly wrote about liquor, it used the phrase “yellow wine is expensive to buy in liters, but liquor is cheap to buy in buckets” to argue that “liquor” in the Qing Dynasty was cheap. In fact, a basic intellectual error was made, and I wrote an article to correct this statement, because white wine at that time was white rice wine, and yellow wine was yellow rice wine. Because in the Ming Dynasty Dai Xi edited the “Yu Yu Monthly Order” volume 11, there are: “where the yellow wine white wine, less into the burning wine, it is not sour by the night”, it is clear that at that time, white wine, yellow wine, burning wine is juxtaposed.

Author: Dao Ke