As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to rage throughout the world, individual nations are taking steps towards life after COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, China is currently furthest into this process. Acting as Ground Zero for the virus, dealing with its consequences longer than any other country, China has managed to get infection rates under control according to news coming out of China.
As we all know, however, we still need to Be Alert. China is looking at how to reduce the risk of a new, even more decimating wave of the infection. One suggestion, in particular, has caught the eye – and, if enacted, it will have significant ramifications on the baijiu industry.
The city of Hangzhou, located in the Zhejiang province, introduced health codes at the peak of the Coronavirus crisis in February. These codes were installed on citizen’s cell phones via a QR code. In order to enter Hangzhou, individuals were asked to reveal their recent travel history and any potential health conditions they lived with.
The worldwide economy has taken a drastic hit in 2020 following the impact of Coronavirus. It’s arguable that that China has suffered as has the rest of the world, acting as Ground Zero for the events that dominate our headlines. China now seems to be emerging from the COVID-19 nightmare – with baijiu manufacturers leading the charge toward economic recovery.
Wuliangye Yibin Co Ltd owns a major distillery based in the Sichuan province of China’s southwest. The business, best known for its eponymous Wuliangye strong aroma baijiu, has made significant investment into the foundations of the distillery. In excess of £1billion has been sunk into improving infrastructure, ensuring that the strong demand for baijiu from Chinese nationals will be matched by increased production capacity.
Moutai baijiu – the blend created, bottled and sold by Kweichow Moutai Co, Ltd in the town of the same name – has long been considered China’s national liquor. So much so, in fact, that you’d be forgiven for assuming that this was an official designation. In truth, this not the case. An attempt to apply a trademark to this effect has been rejected.
Such a status is decided, controlled and ultimately bestowed by China’s Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SIAC). Since 2001, Kweichow Moutai Co, Ltd have been launching attempts to trademark their product with appropriately grand registration. Ten attempts have been launched and roundly rejected on each instance. Now, it appears, that the manufactures have accepted their fate.
The consumption of alcohol is a way of life in China. Referred to as, “ganbei culture”, people are encouraged to drink heartily and regularly at social occasions – especially when enjoying baijiu. Unfortunately for one police officer in Mabu Village, part of the Jiangxi Province, there was a heavy price to pay for such decadence.
Chen was a 38-year-old officer of the law attending a party in Mabu. It is believed that Chen initially arrived at his destination on official business, but after concluding his workload, he began socialising with locals. This led to countless cries of, “ganbei!” – loosely translated, “bottoms up!”
If you have never heard of Maotai, you soon will. This baijiu is a pivotal drink in its native land. Let’s take a look at the key facts that surround this most reputable of spirits.
Kweichow Moutai has annual sales of approximately $10.61 billion USD with an output reach of about 70,200 tons. Kweichow Moutai has a reputation for being the most premium and expensive baijiu brand on the market, in comparison with its competitors. Moutai boasts a market share of 56% amongst premium baijiu brands. 91% of the company’s business is derived from sales by distributors, with the remainder derived from direct sales. Kweichow Moutai is the most well-known and popular of the high-end baijiu brands in China.
So given the sheer size and financial clout of Kweichow Moutai how can any baijiu brand compete with this corporate monster? The short answer is they can’t. No baijiu brand can match Kweichow Moutai’s brands awareness in China and their huge marketing budget.
RONG TAI HE (RTH), the Original Maotai since 1879 and forerunner to Kweichow Moutai started from 1952, unsurprisingly won Double Gold at this year’s International Spirits Challenge (ISC), a highly respected and much anticipated event in international spirits’ annual calendar. Not only did RTH win a long overdue recognition, after receiving Gold at 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, it definitively excelled other baijius, including world renowned brand, from China too.
When we think of Yorkshire, baijiu is hardly the first beverage that springs to mind. Most of us would picture a Yorkshire resident enjoying a chilled pint of bitter, or a steaming mug of strong tea. Stereotypes are made to be broken, though – especially by Baijiu Society, a brewery based in Rydale.
Baijiu Society are bringing a fresh spin to China’s national liqueur, aiming to bring it to mainstream attention throughout the UK and beyond. Business is already booming thanks to exports to China and Hong Kong, where company CEO Craig Butler was formerly based.
It is no exaggeration to say that the price of a relatively scarce bottle of an old baijiu is comparable to that of a decent size house.
For example, the estimated value can be up to 3 million yuan for a 50 year old bottle of Maotai. Whether buying baijiu to start a collection or to be consumed in the future it will require correct storage no matter if its for one, three or ten years. Only good quality baijiu will stand the test of time. In terms of flavor, the sauce flavor is the first choice for long term storage, which is the reason why a bottle of Feitian Maotai is difficult to find. Other aroma types are classified according to the actual situation. Experienced senior collectors say: If baijiu is stored for 3-5 years then sauce aroma baijiu is preferred, followed by strong aroma baijiu and thirdly is light aroma baijiu.
Baijiu producers in mainland China have started producing bottles of high strength alcohol to be used in the medical industry to help fight against the current Wuhan coronavirus.
The Wei He factory located in Linqing city in China’s Shandong province recalled their work force back from their Chinese new year holiday to start immediate production and withing days had produced 1000,000 bottles of 75% alcohol to be donated as quickly as possible to medical staff across China.
Llinqing city’s front line staff battling against the virus were given the first batch on Wednesday.