Recently my stepfather returned from China, with something quite special. He had been working in Xi’an and had been gifted a bottle of Kweichow Moutai. Which, if you enjoy your drink like me, you have probably never heard of…
Produced in China’s Guizhou Province, in the town of Maotai, since the Qing dynasty (around 1644) and is still a state-run brewery. It is the only recognised national drink of China and the only gift given by ambassadors of China to foreign dignitaries. It was even served to Richard Nixon on his state visit to China in 1972, and no wonder.
The white ceramic bottle comes with two 10ml miniature glasses, this may seem small, but the juice is over 50 proof so dip your toes a little, before you reenact the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The small measure certainly packs some force, with the liquid almost immediately turning to vapour on the tongue, it’s not rough like some other spirits but it’s the taste that sets it apart from most. The only way to describe its taste is imagine sieving a thick beef stock through cut grass, not the most beautiful description, but damn do you get a taste for it straight off the bat.
Not only is the clap around the chops immediate, but what sticks out is a warm fuzzy feeling around your head and face which I can’t say I’ve had from any other drink. I’m not sure what else goes in to this and I’m not sure I if I want to. But brother, do I want some more…
The particular recipe of making the drink means that the grain used can only be farmed in the town and the only thing that mixes with the sorghum grain is the water that flows through its river. This of course limits how much can be produced and make it somewhat of a rarity.
The bottles come in at around $200, a piece, if you can find them that is.
words by Tom Heap