Panama 20 Year Old Baijiu 475ml
Winner of a Gold Medal at the International Wine & Spirit Competition.
Fenjiu Panama 20 Year Old Baijiu takes its name from the Grand Medal won at the Panama Pacific World Exposition in 1915 – an event that introduced this ancient brand on to the world stage. Matured for two decades in earthenware vessels, it’s now available in the UK exclusively through Harvey Nichols. Tropical, floral and minty fresh, it erupts from the glass with notes of aniseed, ginger nut biscuits, roasted asparagus drizzled with lemon juice, fresh pipe tobacco, prunes, dried figs, Fox’s Glacier Mints, menthol, eucalyptus, thyme, Third Wave coffee beans and an abundance of sun-kissed exotic fruit, like grapefruit, melon, pineapple, pear and peach. Just so complex, it’s no wonder it performs so well in competitions. Sip this alongside dishes that combine sweet and sour, such as tagine, crispy duck pancakes, tacos with mole, lemon chicken and Sri Lankan curries with tamarind. Alternatively, use it instead of vodka to add phenomenal depth to your favourite cocktails.
Based in Shanxi province, southwest of Beijing, Fenjiu is the oldest Baijiu in China and is famed for its elegant ‘light-aroma’ style. With a history dating back 6,000 years, the Fenjiu Distillery still follows the ancient methods, using organic sorghum, water drawn from the Gouzhuang spring 840 metres below the nearby forest, double fermentation, double distillation with cornhusks added to the fermented grain, and long maturation periods (that easily rival Scotch) in ceramic pots. The grain culture used to start the fermentation process is a combination of barley, peas and water, formed into bricks and left to develop in warm, humid conditions for up to two months. Fenjiu’s operation is mind-bogglingly huge. The distillery covers an area of 18 square kilometres, and they’re building a new one called Zhong Fen Jiu City that will be even bigger, more than doubling their size. There has never been a more exciting time to start drinking Fenjiu’s Baijiu.
Baijiu has been China’s national drink for more than five millennia and is the most-consumed hard liquor on the planet (18 billion litres are made each year). Although the West has been slow on the uptake, that’s all about to change. Sales of this fascinating spirit are exploding around the world. And it’s worth noting that Baijiu is as important a part of Chinese heritage as silk, tea, ceramics, martial arts and calligraphy, all of which have become very popular on these shores.
The name translates as ‘clear spirit’, and Baijiu can be distilled from sorghum, wheat, rice, sticky rice or corn. What makes it unique is two-fold. Firstly, it’s an ingredient called ‘Qu’ – bricks of damp grains left in a warm place until they grow yeasts, fungi and microorganisms – that is used to kickstart the fermentation, a little like koji for Japanese Sake. This gives Baijiu a distinctive aromatic funk, which reminds us a little of high-ester Jamaican rum. Secondly, it’s the fact that Baijiu – unlike any other spirit we’re aware of – is created by distilling the solids, not the liquid. Baijiu is then matured in ceramic jars; something that’s becoming increasingly fashionable in the world of wine also. These breathable containers allow micro-oxygenation of the spirit and remove impurities, all without adding flavour.
Again, like fine wine, production methods vary and there are strong regional variations. So, the Chinese generally classify Baijiu by its distinctive smell. The primary categories are ‘rice’, a sweet and floral style from the south; ‘light’, a delicate style from the north made with sorghum; ‘strong’, the most popular style crafted using at least two grains and mud pits for fermentation; and ‘savoury’ or ‘sauce’, an expensive and umami style thought to resemble soy sauce. Following a similar trajectory to other strong, artisanal spirits like Mezcal, Baijiu is traditionally sipped neat, but it has recently captured the attention of cocktail aficionados and the world’s finest bartenders. Baijiu now looks set to cement its status as the greatest spirit on the planet by increasing its global reach.
£16.84 per 100.00ml
SKU No.: 3273953
Style No.: 822958
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