Baijiu can be an acquired taste, so if you’re curious about sampling it for yourself, you should ensure that you choose a high-quality baijiu brand. Just like a cheap or lesser bottle of wine or gin, baijiu comes in many forms. The wrong choice may give you the wrong impression of what this drink has to offer.
Here are ten great brands of baijiu. If you are celebrating Chinese New Year, or simply wish to bring a little slice of Chinese culture into your life, you cannot go wrong with selection any of these bottles. You may not find them on the shelves of Tesco, but many reputable Asian supermarkets will stock them. If not, you will be able to buy baijiu online.
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Maotai
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Wuliangye
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – V.I.P Jiu 8
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Jiannanchun
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Fenjiu
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Gujing Gongjiu
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Luzhou Laojiao
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Yanghe Daqu
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Langjiu
- Most Popular Baijiu Brands Xifengjiu
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Maotai
Maotai enjoys status as the national liqueur of China. This spirit is served at state banquets throughout the country, and an aged bottle can sell for thousands of pounds at auction. Maotai is also considered a precious commodity in China, with some collectors stockpiling rare bottles to fund retirement.
Naturally, this means that Maotai is at the more expensive end of the baijiu spectrum. Maotai comes with a pleasing sauce aroma.
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Wuliangye
Wuliangye is arguably the closest competitor to Maotai in terms of taste sensation. It’s a strong baijiu, but the many and varied ingredients are well-balanced. The aftertaste lingers, and it’s a distinctly savoury experience without sacrificing refreshment.
Wuliangye is possibly the best example of what goes into creating the perfect baijiu. Even the name translates as a breakdown of the core ingredients – wheat, sorghum, corn and multiple forms of rice. While it’s a little more powerful than some competitors, it is certainly celebrated for good reason.
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – V.I.P Jiu 8
V.I.P Jiu 8 is the latest entry to the world of baijiu, and it is one of the most intriguing. This bottle is dubbed, “The Imperial Craft Baijiu” as it pays tribute to the Kangxi Emperor, considered by many to be China’s greatest-ever ruler.
This is not mere lip service. The recipe of this baijiu – made up on nine ingredients selected by the Kangxi emperor were discovered in an antique drinking vessel presentation case used in the aforementioned Emperor’s court, dating back to the 17th Century.
If you are new to baijiu, V.I.P Jiu 8 will transport you back in time and demonstrate the appeal of this spirit.
V.I.P Jiu 8 – The Imperial Craft Baijiu
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Jiannanchun
Jiannanchun is a part of Chinese folklore. If you are familiar with the literary heroes of the nation, you will have heard of Li Bai, a fabled poet active around 700 AD.
Further Reading – Baijiu History: Ancient Recent & Modern.
Li Bai was such an enthusiast of Jiannanchun that it fuelled his work and creativity. So much so, in fact, that legend claimed he sold a treasured mink vest on his deathbed so he could finance one final taste of this baijiu.
Thankfully, you will not need to go to such extremes to sample this spirit for yourself. Once you do so, however, you will understand the appeal. This baijiu is strong and rich on the nose and but fresh and sweet on the tongue, with the aftertaste leaving an ongoing sense of refreshment.
You can pick up this spirit in a range of strengths, with the lower end of the scale around 38% and the higher exceeding 50%. The refreshment remains the same, but the potency of the aroma will vary depending on what bottle you pick up.
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Fenjiu
Fenjiu is an institution in China, but it is also one of the more mainstream brands of baijiu. The manufacturers have teamed up with Harrods in recent times to bring baijiu to a western audience, ensuring that more people have sampled this product than they may realise.
Perhaps the reason Fenjiu have targeted western audiences is the lightness of this baijiu. It has a very mild light aroma and tastes sweet on the palate. There is also a wide array of strengths available, from as low to 38% to as high as 53% proof.
Fenjiu is an award-winning baijiu, scooping up a gold medal at the Panama Pacific International Exposition – a celebration of spirits. If you’re looking for a light aroma introduction to baijiu that does not pack too much of a punch, you could do far worse.
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Gujing Gongjiu
This baijiu has a long and illustrious history in China, considered a royal favourite of many Dynasties. While it may have been superseded by Maotai as China’s national liquor, it remains hugely popular and respected.
This delicate baijiu, which boasts a fresh taste that lingers long on the tongue after consumption, is made up of over 130 different Chinese herbs and spices. The end is result is often compared to the flavour of gin. Naturally, this makes it appealing to western sensibilities.
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Luzhou Laojiao
Luzhou Laojiao is one of the oldest baijius on our list. It remains hugely popular and reputable in China. If you have a Chinese friend, family member or business associate, consider offering them a bottle of Luzhou Laojiao as a gift. You will carry immediate favour for your thoughtfulness.
Luzhou Laojiao is also one of the strongest, and most distinctive, baijiu brands available. You will struggle to find a bottle of this baijiu below 50% proof of alcohol, so it is not necessarily for the faint-hearted. The taste is sweet with a hint of peaches though, almost comparable to Schnapps, with a strong scent to match.
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Yanghe Daqu
Yanghe Daqu baijiu is perhaps most renowned for its unique and striking vessel. This baijiu is hosted in a timeless and elegant vessel that resembles a traditional Chinese vase. This is perhaps explained by the history of this spirit – it was frequently used as a gift during the fabled Ming Dynasty.
Naturally, though, it’s what is on the inside that counts. Thankfully, Yanghe Daqu meets expectations on this front too. The scent is strong upon opening the bottle, but the spirit itself is sweet, smooth and refreshing.
How this spirit tastes will depend on manufacturing conditions, though. Yanghe Daqu is created at three temperatures – 64, 61 or 55 degrees. Mix and match different bottles and decide which pleases your palate most.
Most Popular Baijiu Brands – Langjiu
This is another comparatively young baijiu brand. Langjiu has been part of the baijiu landscape for around a hundred years, and it has slowly and steadily amassed a steady reputation in this time.
There are two key components that set Langjiu aside from other baijiu brands. The first is the potency of this liqueur. While all baijiu is strong, Langjiu never drops below an alcohol proof of 50%.
The other is the variety of aromas that this brand is available in. You can pick up Langjiu with a thick, layered or sauce fragrance. This means that you can tailor your experience to the preferences of your nose and palate.
Most Popular Baijiu Brands Xifengjiu
Baijiu is a very traditional drink, with its roots deeply embedded in Chinese history. That applies to Xifengjiu too, as this brand dates back to the Tang Dynasty that ruled China between 618 and 907 AD.
Despite this, Xifengjiu has regularly reinvented itself – both in terms of taste and branding. This is a bitter and spicy spirit on the tongue, but there is also an element of sweetness. This all creates a very distinctive drinking experience.
Xifengjiu can also be much lower in alcohol than other baijiu brands. The average bottle of Xifengjiu offers an alcohol content of around 33%. Nervous samplers of baijiu may find this to be a fine introduction, or the base ingredient of a cocktail.
Like all spirits, finding the perfect baijiu for your personal tastes can be a journey. It should be an enjoyable one, though, so start off on the right foot! If you make one of the brands your first baijiu experience, you’ll have a great impression of what this brand can offer.