Zisha Daqu Baijiu 100ml
Luzhou Laojiao is one of Baijiu’s best-known brands and might be familiar as one of the sponsors of the Australian Open tennis tournament. Spirits Business announced Luzhou Laojiao as the world’s fourth most valuable spirits brand in 2021, ahead of the likes of Jack Daniel’s, Hennessy, Smirnoff, Bacardi, Johnnie Walker and many other household names. Luzhou is a city in Sichuan Province, which should give you a hint for food matching with this one, and it’s particularly famous for its Baijiu. Laojiao means ‘old cellar’ in Chinese, a reference to the clay cellars where grain is fermented and distilled into Baijiu. It’s thought that the microbes living in the walls of these cellars give the spirit its unique aroma and flavour.
Luzhou Laojiao has been a pioneer of the ‘strong’ aroma style (more of this below) of Baijiu for more than 400 years. Zisha Daqu is crafted from sorghum, wheat and water, and it comes in the cutest ceramic bottle, paying homage to the larger clay jars that the Baijiu is made in. This 10cl sample presents notes of chocolate-coated cherries, sesame oil, peppery biltong, peach, toasted rice, poached pear, coffee, roasted nuts, soy sauce and fermented black beans. Consider pairing this with spicy Sichuan cuisine, wild mushrooms or barbeques.
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.
£9 per 100.00ml
SKU No.: 3518046
Style No.: 902000
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