Moutai is a spirit that is mentioned a great deal on this site, and indeed whenever Chinese liquor is discussed. It’s the biggest brand of baijiu in its native country, and Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd has superseded Diageo as the most valuable booze business in the world.
Stocks in the company are considered a sound investment, and the turnover over the business is higher than the entire province of Guizhou, where the distillery is located.
Moutai is an experience as much as it is a sprit, often gifted by those looking to display their generosity. The asking price for a standard bottle typically exceeds £100, and drastically rises when the bottle in question is rare and of a limited edition.
There is no denying that Moutai is a big deal. This guide will explain, in layperson’s terms, why that is – and what sets Moutai apart from the many other baijiu brands in China.
- What is Kweichow Moutai?
- Why is Kweichow Moutai So Popular?
- Is Kweichow Moutai a Collector’s Item?
- What Next for Kweichow Moutai?
- Scientific Analysis: V.I.P Jiu 8 – VS – Moutai
What is Kweichow Moutai?
Moutai is the leading brand of baijiu in China. Baijiu, loosely translated as white or clear liquor, is a potent spirit that is consumed in small tulip-shaped glasses throughout China. It is tradition to toast a special occasion or the closing of a business deal with a shot of baijiu, alongside a cry of, “ganbei!” (“empty your cup!” – basically, the Chinese answer to, “cheers!”).
Further reading: Chinese drinking culture.
You’ll find baijiu served at any event or dinner in China – it’s as ubiquitous as wine in the west. Despite the high alcohol content, drinking baijiu to excess is common practice and to be expected. In China, it is considered substandard hosting to allow your guests to leave the dinner table sober.
Moutai is a small mountain town in China, within the province of Guizhou. Guizhou has been distilling baijiu for some two centuries, ensuring that the region is closely associated with baijiu production.
In 1949, following Chairman Mao’s rise to power and the formation of the People’s Republic of China, the numerous distilleries in the region were combined into one, state-owned interest. This distillery was renamed Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd, and as discussed, steadily rose to the status of the biggest liquor manufacturer in the world.
Why is Kweichow Moutai So Popular?
Baijiu created in Moutai, including the flagship spirit that bears the town’s name, can be an acquired taste. All baijiu is diaphanous, so the spirit is assigned one of several categories by its aroma. Moutai is a sauce aroma baijiu.
This strong fragrance appeals to many, who see it as a sign of quality, but to others – especially baijiu novices – the strong scent and potent alcohol content makes baijiu difficult to swallow. If Moutai divides opinion, how has it ended up being so popular?
Moutai found favour with numerous Chinese leaders, including Chairman Mao and Deng Xiaoping, helped its cause and brand recognition. Baijiu is a staple of state banquets in China, and Moutai is the only choice of the nation’s authorities. This ensures that this spirit is the first – and often only – baijiu experience enjoyed by visiting dignitaries.
This is arguably the ultimate celebrity endorsement. Forget your Instagram influencers. Major figures such as Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger and Kim Jong-un have been photographed enjoying Moutai. This adds to the prestige and mystery surrounding the spirit, ensuring that gifting a bottle will always earn respect and admiration.
Is Kweichow Moutai a Collector’s Item?
In the west, wealthy people stockpile and collect aged bottles of wine or whisky. This activity serves two purposes; the opportunity to savour a wonderful taste cultivated over several years in storage, and to act as a speculative financial investment. The same applies to Moutai in China.
Maintaining a stockpile of Moutai in a cellar does not just mean that you’ll always be able to impress friends with your exquisite taste. These bottles can also drastically increase in value over the years. Moutai is often released in small batches, with limited edition unique labels. People with the means will always race to snap up the latest batch before it’s too late.
This has led to Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd becoming the most valuable business on its host nation’s stock exchange, even superseding the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China for a spell. If you still need to understand the net worth of this business, it’s almost twice as valuable as Coca-Cola.
What Next for Kweichow Moutai?
With everything we have discussed, you would be forgiven for assuming that Moutai will continue to go from strength to strength A handful of roadblocks have been placed in the path of Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd in their quest for genuine global domination, though.
The first is a changing of tastes in the next generation of China’s elite. Many younger Chinese nationals forgo baijiu in favour of international spirits, including whisky, tequila and sake. That is assuming that these youthful powerbrokers continue to follow, “Gainbei Culture.”
Increasingly, business deals are moving away from banquet halls and into company boardrooms and coffee shops for Chinese millennials. Part of this may be due to the fact that Moutai’s popularity and value led to corruption. Bottles of Moutai have regularly been used as soft bribes, and forgeries have flooded the market. A crackdown on these dishonest practices hit sales figures of the spirit for a while, though they rapidly began to climb again when the dust settled.
This is not to say that Moutai’s days are numbered, though. Baijiu will likely always be a part of the fabric of Chinese culture, and Moutai remains the leading name in the industry. Moutai will always be celebrated as a gift, while entrepreneurs are also keen to expand the reach of baijiu to a global audience. While it is rarely consumed outside China, baijiu is slowly gaining a presence overseas, especially as a core ingredient of baijiu cocktails.
Moutai is not just a baijiu. For many Chinese nationals, especially those holding powers of state, it is the baijiu. For this reason alone, it remains the best-known spirit in the country – a status conveyed by the healthy profits posted by its distillery on an annual basis.
There is no denying Moutai is an incredibly great baijiu.
Moutai is ingrained in Chinese culture, there is nothing more Chinese than Moutai other than the Chinese people themselves. In China Moutai is an institution in its own right, it is a premium luxury brand that oozes opulence. It is considered by many in China as an investment commodity as well as a huge gainer of face. Moutai is the biggest and wealthiest baijiu brand in the world.
Just because your the biggest does not mean your the best!
Scientific Analysis: V.I.P Jiu 8 – VS – Moutai
A bottle of V.I.P Jiu 8 together with a bottle of Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy was sent to a UK laboratory for analysis.
The laboratory is a registered member of UKAS – The United Kingdom Accreditation Service that is recognised by the UK government when comparing products to internationally agreed standards.
The two bottles were labelled sample A and sample B.
- Sample A – V.I.P Jiu 8.
- Sample B – Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy.
The laboratory concluded that the two bottles were very different, with sample A (VIP Jiu 8) being considerably more complex than sample B (Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy).
The chart below clearly shows that sample A (VIP Jiu 8) contains many more compounds with positive attributes than sample B (Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy).
Further Reading: V.I.P Jiu 8 – The Restorative Baijiu
V.I.P Jiu 8 may not have the financial clout and brand awareness as Moatai but it is unarguably: