08 Mar 2020

Moutai

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The Wall Street Journal introduces us to a Chinese spirit ranked high as a status symbol in the mystic East, whose taste is both admired and despised.

China’s Kweichow Moutai Co. has become the world’s most valuable liquor company thanks to a fiery spirit that can cost nearly $400 a bottle.

The spirit is baijiu, a Chinese liquor made by fermenting sorghum or other grains in brick or mud pits. The company’s version, known simply as Moutai, has a long association with China’s Communist leaders, and has become a homegrown status symbol for affluent Chinese.

One drawback: many people can’t stand it.

The taste is “very much like ethanol,” said Jenny Miao, a 26-year-old market researcher in Shanghai. At dinners with clients, she said she sometimes has to toast with Moutai, but will then drink water to wash away the aftertaste.

Baijiu detractors say the taste reminds them of paint stripper or kerosene, especially the cheap varieties. It does have many genuine fans, who laud baijiu’s complexity and distinct flavor varieties—strong, light, soy-sauce, and rice aroma.

One liquor website describes Moutai as having “a silky mouthfeel” and says it carries “an undertone of baking spice.” Other reviewers say the drink conjures tastes of nuts, sesame paste, mushrooms, cheese, and dark chocolate.

Moutai is usually served in tiny glasses that contain about a third of an ounce of the spirit. Shots are frequently downed to show respect for someone making a toast. People in China say “gan bei” before drinking, which literally means “dry cup.”

RTWT

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Seattle Sam

Nice to know that ostentatious displays of wealth are not limited to the West. When I was in Japan many years ago, I noticed Japanese businessmen drinking extremely expensive Cognac mixed with soda. Other than to show one’s “sophistication” this makes no sense.



Anon

IMHO this is how all hard liquers taste to me. Sure you can mix with other things to make them palatable but straight up they are terrible.



another anon

me, too.

the taste if hard liquor is lost on me- usually sprayed down my shirt.



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