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Baijiu News Review: Big in China Edition

Baijiu conquers the world
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dragon boat baijiu
Christina Chung

While some parts of the world are still reeling from COVID-19, many countries have begun cautiously reopening. China was first hit, and also one of the first to bounce back. And nothing in China has shown more resilience than the baijiu market. It dropped like a brick when the pandemic hit, quickly recovered, and is now demonstrating newfound market dominance.

Which brings us to our lead story for this news installment: Kweichow Moutai—China’s most-valuable baijiu distillery—is now the most valuable publicly traded stock in the PRC. That is not typo. I did not write that it is most valuable liquor stock or consumer good. It is the most valuable stock, period, ahead of banks, utilities and mining concerns.

Let no one doubt the Middle Kingdom’s love of drink.

Elsewhere in May and June, our efforts to promote baijiu have gone thoroughly multimedia. Many of the past couple of months’ webinars and podcasts have been recorded, and shared for your edification. We you will listen, watch, learn and enjoy.


Liquor Distiller Briefly Breaks Banks’ Stranglehold on China’s Market-Cap Crown—Tanner Brown, MarketWatch

“[Kweichow Moutai’s] stock has risen more than 50% in the past year, and its chairman told Chinese state media last week that he was ‘confident of double-digit increase this year’ in sales.”

Local Spirits Brand Champion 2020: Mistral—The Spirits Business

The headline is a case-study in burying the lede, but read this (incredible but true) quote: “Baijiu continues to be the world’s largest spirit category, yet producers remain loath to share their volumes. In 2019, the retail value of baijiu, as measured by IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, was a colossal US$185 billion – bigger than the entire value of all spirits outside of Asia[.]”

Mao Zedong’s Favourite Spirits Brand Eclipses Western Icons—Financial Times [paywalled]

“Moutai’s market capitalisation has soared by Rmb360bn this year to hit Rmb1.85tn ($260bn). A favourite of Mao Zedong, who used it to toast the People’s Republic, the brand has eclipsed stalwarts of western capitalism including Walt Disney, Coca-Cola and LVMH.”

“Six Spirits that Evoke Far-Off Destinations”—Liza Weisstuch, The Washington Post

These days it’s hard to travel in body, but we can still travel in spirit. In this focus on global spirits, Weisstuch surveys some of the world’s most celebrated but underrepresented spirits. Baijiu, of course, makes an appearance.

Travelogue: What’s Buzzing in Beijing? A New Way of Drinking Baijiu—Megan Zhang, CGTN

A CGTN profile of the world’s first, and still thriving, baijiu bar: Capital Spirits.


Discover Baijiu with Derek Sandhaus—WSET (YouTube)

WSET (the Wine and Spirit Education Trust) is the industry gold standard for alcohol instruction, which has recently added baijiu and other East Asian spirits to their curriculum. Join DB’s own Derek Sandhaus and WSET London in-house expert Nick King for what is undoubtedly the nerdiest baijiu-related discussion ever committed to Youtube. Well worth your time.

Baijiu 101: A Crash Course in Chinese Spirits—Bar Convent Brooklyn (Youtube)

In case you’d like to go slightly less, but still quite nerdy, and enjoy some visual aids to boot, check out this recording of Sandhaus’ recent webinar (itself a reprise of his 2019 Bar Convent Brooklyn session). Moderated by the great Angus Winchester.

Intro to Baijiu—Modern Bar Cart (InstaLive)

Modern Bar Cart host Erik Kozlik leading a delightful tasting of three baijius, to promote and complement Modern Bar Cart podcast no. 152: Intro to Baijiu with, you guessed it, Derek Sandhaus (in case you weren’t already sick of me). Well worth a watch and a listen.

Baijiu and Cocktail Talk—Arthur Nägele feat. Ulric Nijs (InstaLive)

Join spirits experts Arthur Nägele and Ulric Nijs—as good of friends of baijiu as you’ll find—for a delightful cross-category tasting, and their musings on the category and its future. Note: It was recorded sideways, so you’ll need to crane your head or adjust your computer.

Self-Promotion Corner

“Es Ist Unmöglich, Baijiu Unabhängig von der Kultur zu Begreifen, die Ihn Geschaffen Hat.” Derek Sandhaus im Interview—Stefan Adrian, Mixology [German]

A little baijiu love for the German-speaker in your life.

Review: Drunk in China—Ken Smith, Asian Review of Books

“At the heart of Drunk in China is a salient question: ‘How can a drink, consumed for centuries by the world’s most populous nation, become the world’s best-selling liquor and still remain functionally invisible abroad?’ ”

Baijiu and China—Michael Olson, Food Chain Radio

A discussion that delves into the cultural and historical significance of alcohol in China.



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.