China Travel Guide

Types of Chinese Spirits

Huangjiu Chinese drinks are classified into the following four groups, according to the process by which they are made:
 
  • Huangjiu
Huangjiu is also known as "laojiu", which is brewed from grain with wheat Qu or Xiao Qu used as saccharifying and fermenting agents. It is one of three dominated brewed wines (beer and grape wine) in the world.
 
Huang Jiu predates all the other liquors, with a history of several thousand years. The alcohol content is mild, at around 15%, and it is used as the base of "yaojiu". It is also an excellent condiment for cooking. Among these liquors the Shaoxing Rice Wine is the most famous.

  • Baijiu
BaijiuBaijiu, which includes spirits, is made from sorghum, corn, barley or wheat, most of which are easy to ferment. Colorless and transparent, it usually contains over 50% alcohol. The alcohol strength varies between 55 and 65 percent. A small quantity can make one tipsy in a moment. Of the most famous of baijiu are Guizhou Maotai, Wuliangye, Shanxi Fenjiu and Luzhou Daqu.

There are three main groups of Baijiu which are divided up according to their characteristics. It is primarily the different fermentation methods that create the various characteristics. The largest groups are qingxiang, jiangxiang and nongxiang.
 
Those that may ferment in clay vats obtain a light and transient aroma and are called liquor with qingxiang, a light bouquet. A famous example of this is Fenjiu from Shanxi .
 
The kind of mash made with yeasts that have been prepared under high temperatures, which also requires a larger amount of yeast than normally, ferments at a higher temperature. This yeast becomes very dark and gives the distillate a very special character that is comparable to the taste of soy, and is consequently called liquor with jiangxiang, a soy bouquet. A typical example of liquor with this taste is Maotai from Guizhou .
 
Liquors that are fermented in earth cellars are affected by bacteria in the ground. This creates very special esters, acids and oils which are highly aromatic. Such liquor is called nongxiang, a strong bouquet. The three best ones are considered to be Mianzhu Daqu, Wuliangye from Yibin and Luzhou Laojiao Daqu. The production process is absolutely unique. These include its full-flavored aftertaste, its freshness and its light sweetness. Every one will never forget the good taste even he only taste a sip of it.

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