Why Moutai commands such a premium price?
There are a number of factors that affect the price of Moutai, below we will highlight the main events in history that are primarily responsible for lending to the aura, mystique and romance created around the Moutai baijiu brand.
Maotai or Moutai which it is also known, is more than just a spirit in China. Maotai is part publicly traded and part state-owned producer and is the world’s most valuable liquor brand by market valuation.
The perception of Moutai is everything
In reality, Moutai’s flavour is not drastically different from any other sauce aroma baijiu brand. It’s not necessarily the tastebud-tantalising properties of Moutai that create such a stir. It’s more the perspective of quality and prestige. To gift a bottle of Moutai, whether as a token of esteem of an act of gentle conviction (some might say soft bribe!) is to show a demeanour of wealth and taste.
In many respects, this is a triumph of marketing and reputation management. There is an aura of wonder and mystery that sounds Moutai. In addition, there is the favouritism for this baijiu brand displayed by the powers that be. This is the spirit served at all state banquets, ensuring that it retains the official seal of approval of China’s ruling classes.
How Moutai Rose to Prominence
Moutai is marketed as the national spirit of China (albeit not officially trademarked as such.) This really became the case in 1949, when Chairman Mao rose to prominence. Mao and his comrades toasted the founding of the People’s Republic of China with Moutai. Perhaps that was because it was the tipple of choice of Zhou Enlai, the Chinese premier and Mao’s second-in-command.
Either way, Moutai has been served and shared at all state banquets since the 1950s. Countless political leaders of all stripes from around the world – including Richard Nixon and Kim Il Sung – have enjoyed this famously potent spirit. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was a particular fan, announcing at a peace summit in 1972 that, “I think if we drink enough Maotai, we can solve anything.”
The production process of Moutai was modernised in the 1950s. Chairman Mao dispatched emissaries to the USA to learn how traditional spirits were made in the west. Bringing these learnings home to China, three distilleries – producing a trio of different baijiu brands, Ronghe, Hengxing and Moutai – were merged. An iconic brand was forged from the ashes, and the ascent of Moutai began in earnest.
This distillery is state-owned and operated, too. This means that every yuan earned through Moutai sales puts money back into the central coffers of the nation. When we also consider that Moutai is publicly traded on the stock exchange – and is the most valuable liquor brand in the world – sales at high prices can leave China in a healthy financial position. This does not leave the authorities with any real motivation to drop the price of Moutai. After all, the popularity of the product ensures that it will sell anyway. Why not charge a premium and reap the rewards foir the state?
Moutai regularly creates an image of scarcity and rarity to keep prices inflated.
Moutai also maintains its reputation as a premium product by remaining unreachable to many. That isn’t just because of the price, though this obviously factors into the issue for some low-earning Chinese nationals. Moutai is produced in smaller batches too though, designed to create an air of scarcity and collectability.
Wu Dewang, the brand manager of Moutai, has been quoted as saying, “Our target is to go from our current 48,000-tonne yearly production to 56,000 tonnes. It will be hard to go beyond that, because that could affect the ecosystem and quality, and on those we will not compromise. We have to think about Moutai as a scarce resource.”
If that sounds a little elitist to you … well, it probably is. To quote another source at the Moutai distillery, who quite understandably asked to remain anonymous through fear of a backlash, “Moutai has always been a drink for the powerful and wealthy. It has never been meant for ordinary people.”
Moutai as an investment.
By promoting this sense of scarcity, Moutai has become a collectible item in China. So much so, in fact, that the spirit is often used as an investment vehicle. Just like fine wine, an aged bottle of Moutai can be worth substantial sums of money. Recently, a bottle that dated back to the 1940s sold for £200,000, a sum that was considered disappointing by auctioneers. Previously a 1935 vintage of Lay Mau Moutai reached £1.2m.
It’s at auctions that you’ll often find Moutai for sale – and not just in China. Christie’s has a web page dedicated to Moutai auctions, such is the popularity and collectability of this liquor. The price of this product will only rise in time, so even a substantial outlay can yield great reward in the future. As Moutai is often released in rare, limited edition bottles and packaging, there will always be a wealthy enthusiast seeking a particular label or year to add to their collection.
Moutai the statesman
It’s not unusual for a particular drink to be intrinsically tied to a country and its culture. Think of Guinness, and your mind will invariably wander to the rolling hills of Ireland. The same applies with Moutai and China. This spirit and its homeland belong together and shall never be parted.
This explains why Moutai retails at such a high price. There is undeniably a quality to the product, but there’s far more to it that creates a market value. Branding is power, and the effort that has been poured into marketing Moutai ensures that it remains the undisputed powerhouse among the biggest baijiu brands.
Hopefully the above will shine a little light on: Why Is Moutai So Expensive?
There is no denying Moutai is an incredibly great baijiu.
Moutai is ingrained in Chinese culture, there is nothing more Chinese than Moutai other than the Chinese people themselves. In China Moutai is an institution in its own right, it is a premium luxury brand that oozes opulence. It is considered by many in China as an investment commodity as well as a huge gainer of face. Moutai is the biggest and wealthiest baijiu brand in the world.
Just because your the biggest does not mean your the best…
Moutai Scientific Analysis – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8 Scientific Analysis
A bottle of V.I.P Jiu 8 together with a bottle of Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy was sent to a UK laboratory for analysis.
The laboratory is a registered member of UKAS – The United Kingdom Accreditation Service that is recognised by the UK government when comparing products to internationally agreed standards.
The two bottles were labelled sample A and sample B.
- Sample A – V.I.P Jiu 8.
- Sample B – Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy.
The laboratory concluded that the two bottles were very different, with sample A (VIP Jiu 8) being considerably more complex than sample B (Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy).
The chart below clearly shows that sample A (VIP Jiu 8) contains many more compounds with positive attributes than sample B (Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy).
Here are just a few of the many compounds known for their positive qualities found in V.I.P Jiu 8.
- Alpha-Pinene and beta-Pinene – a wide range of pharmacological attributes have been reported, including anticoagulant, antitumour, antimicrobial, antimalarial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Beta-Myrcene – has a role as an anti-inflammatory agent and an anabolic agent.
- Alpha-Terpinene – a known antioxidant.
- Gamma-Terpinene – displays antimicrobial properties against various human pathogens.
- Alpha-Terpinolene – produces a mildly sedative effect and can help reduce anxiety.
- Alpha copaene – anti-proliferative, antioxidant.
- Linalool – known to have anti-anxiety, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Trans alpha-Bergamotene – effective against inflammation in the intestine.
- Beta-selinene – exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These benefits may reduce the frequency and severity of painful gout attacks.
- Beta Ocimene – known to work well with other terpenes and has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Further Reading – (Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8)