Understanding baijiu means understanding baijiu classification. Baijiu is not just a drink, it is a category of drinks. Distillers across China have developed their own wrinkles on baijiu over the centuries. Since the 1950s the Chinese government has classified regional styles largely according to production method and ingredients. The current classification system breaks baijiu down by “aroma,” though something may be lost in translation.
Four principle styles that comprise the bulk of all baijiu: strong aroma, light aroma, sauce aroma and rice aroma. There are several other styles, some so specific that they refer to the spirits of a single distillery.