It is a little known fact in the West that the world’s most popular spirit is a liquor from China called baijiu, with global sales accounting for more than whisky, vodka, gin, rum and tequila combined.
Some 10.8 billion litres of baijiu (pronounced ‘bye-joe’) were consumed in 2018 – nearly all of it in China, according to UK-based International Wine and Spirit Research (IWSR).
Now, for the first time, a British-made baijiu is being launched to meet the growing demand for the centuries-old drink that is appealing to a new generation of drinkers in the West.
V.I.P Jiu 8 is the brainchild of Irving Graham, an antique dealer from Newcastle who makes his living selling Chinese antiques. The remarkable series of events that led him to create the UK’s first authentic Imperial craft baijiu reads like the script of a Hollywood film.
Back in 2014 Graham bid £300 for a cracked Chinese teacup at an auction in southern England. He later discovered it was a piece from the Imperial Chinese collection once housed in the Forbidden City during the reign of the Kangxi Emperor between 1654-1722.