Baijiu, literally translating to “white liquor,” is perhaps the world’s most popular distilled spirit. Though it is little known in the U.S., it is a staple of Chinese culture, having been enjoyed in the country for over a millennium. For those in online culinary school looking to broaden their horizons, baijiu is a great liquor to learn to love. Several shots of the spirit are often taken after business meetings, and as the U.S. continues to work more closely with China, it is expected that Americans partake in this tradition. Several distilleries are trying to bring baijiu westward, so expect to find it increasingly available in grocery outlets and corner stores.
What is baijiu?
The spirit is grain alcohol derived from sorghum that is aged in clay for up to 30 years. Depending on the region, baijiu varieties can taste completely different, meaning that if the first one you try isn’t your cup of tea, another might be right up your alley. Baijiu is the only spirit in the world fermented multiple times. Creating the drink is incredibly labor intensive, and requires the work of deft baijiu artisans who have intimate knowledge of how the spirit is produced. There are three main types of baijiu, defined by their distinct aromas. Baijiu is usually a strength of 100 proof or higher.
The spirit is one of the most-consumed liquors in the world. According to the International Wine & Spirits Group, baijiu sales in 2012 were more than six times that of all liquor consumption in the United States. Whether the potent alcoholic beverage will find a place in Western nations is still yet to be determined, but odds are as Americans continue to become more interested in culinary culture, this distinct spirit will likely become more popular in the U.S.