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Baijiu News Review: Baijiu Goes Viral Edition

Trouble at home and opportunities abroad for Chinese spirits in the time of coronavirus.
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Sean Hagen

It started in China, at first seemed largely contained, and now it’s popping everywhere around the globe. I speak, of course, of baijiu.

But seriously, in these days of global pandemic anxiety, grave questions remain about how a slowdown in international travel and trade will change the alcoholic landscape. Bars and restaurants are feeling the hit. So too are baijiu producers.

The silver lining: Baijiu is showing signs of breaking through in several international markets. Once the virus has passed, and the worst is behind us, we may find ourselves soon living in a very different world. Until that day, stay safe and healthy, and drink to global wellness.


Baijiu: the largest spirits category the US has never heard of—The IWSR
“According to the IWSR, preliminary 2019 category volumes for baijiu in the US show modest growth over 2018. The two leading brands in the US, Ming River and Vinn, make up most volumes for the category, but it’s expected more brands will come to market, leading to a forecast 5.2% CAGR through 2024.”

Finally, Australia gets a taste for the world’s most-drunk spirit—Max Allen, Financial Review
Perhaps the most unexpected and intriguing bit of recent news in baijiu, Australia comes charging into the international baijiu world with three Australian made brands—East Coast Kaoliang, Australian Baijiu, and Artemis Goddess—and another baijiu expected to launch later this year. I’d never heard of any of them before this, and now I can’t wait to try them all.

China’s economy, having weathered the trade war, is now jolted by coronavirus—Anna Fifield, Washington Post
“Market analysts say that if the ban on gatherings continues through March, baijiu companies could lose a fifth of annual sales. First-quarter sales account for more than a third of annual revenue for high-end baijiu makers such as Moutai.” Yikes.

El Destilado Más Vendido y Desconocido del Mundo—Jordi Luque, El País (Spain)
An excellent overview of baijiu and its efforts to internationalize for our Spanish-speaking readers.


The Debut of a Baijiu Flavor Wheel—Gary Spedding, Beverage Testing Institute
Spedding (and our friend Gary Baxter) have done the world a great service with this detailed examination of baijiu in its many iterations. A beautiful visual examination of the baijiu aroma categories in the form of a flavor wheel, a lovely chart detailing baijiu production methods, and lots more information for the curious reader. Well done, gents.

Multiple Batches of Fermentation Promote the Formation of Functional Microbiota in Chinese Miscellaneous-Flavor Baijiu Fermentation—Liu Pulin and Miao Lihong, Frontiers in Microbiology
Perhaps not for the casual reader, but valuable information the for the aspiring bai-ologist on the microbiology behind mixed-aroma baijiu. Did you know, for example, that a baijiu’s flavor and aroma changes dramatically depending on which time of the year your ferment it? Find out more here.

Self-Promotion Corner

Down on the Baijiu—Yesi D, Luckbox Magazine
I’m down with it. Are you?

Drink Baijiu moderator pic

Derek Sandhaus

The Bai-ologist

Derek Sandhaus is the educational director of Ming River Baijiu. He is the author of several books about China, including Baijiu: The Essential Guide to Chinese Spirits and the award-winning Drunk in China: Baijiu and the World’s Oldest Drinking Culture. He currently lives with his wife and dog in Washington, D.C.