Wuliangchun Blue Elegance Baijiu 500ml
Wuliangchun Blue Elegance is crafted using ‘Chen’s Secret Formula’ – a five-grain mixture of sorghum, rice, sticky rice, wheat and corn devised by Master Spirit Maker San Chen. A crisp and complex Baijiu made in the ever-popular ‘strong-aroma’ style, you’ll discover delicate notes of warm hay, soy sauce, roasted pineapple, granary bread, fennel seeds, honey, pine sap, herbes de Provence, vanilla, Cuban cigars, orange zest and something reminiscent of a muted Islay whisky. The orange zest and twist of grapefruit acidity on the finish have you instantly wanting a second sip. Serve this neat, pair it with Sichuan food, or mix it into elaborate cocktails – we love it with a splash of Campari and topped up with grapefruit soda.
The Wuliangye Group, based in Sichuan Province, is known as the ‘King of Liquor in China’. Their location has been recognised by UNESCO and the World Food and Agricultural Organization as one of the greatest places to make high-quality spirits on the planet. They employ 50,000 staff; have been honing their skills for over six centuries; and operate a complex more akin to town, covering some 18 square kilometres. But what makes them so special is that they possess some of the oldest fermentation pits in the country, built during the Ming Dynasty and still used to this day. When the fermentation is carried out, a quarter of the grains are left in the pit, something that reminds us both of the Solera systems in Sherry and what is lovingly referred to as ‘muck’ in the production of Jamaican rum. As this has been done continuously for 600 years, the flavour Wuliangye create is utterly unique and cannot be imitated.
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.
£11 per 100.00ml
SKU No.: 3273979
Style No.: 822973
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