New spirit that has taken the cocktail menus in the West is baijiu.
If you’re a spirit devourer, you may have heard of this strong and clear liquor.
This spirit might be new in the Western world but has been in existence in China for thousand years and is quite prominent in the Chinese culture.
Interestingly, this national drink was the world’s bestselling liquor in 2016 and was also the most consumed liquor in 2018.
It became massively popular in the global market although it’s often considered as an acquired taste.
So, what does baijiu taste like? In this post, we’ll reveal its taste profile, its variants and more.
What is Baijiu?
Baijiu is a colorless and clear spirit primarily manufactured in China.
It’s a grain-based liquor known for its punchy taste and fruity aroma.
The unique aspect about this drink is its aroma making it stands out from other spirits.
When it comes to ABV (Alcohol by Volume), it falls between 35 and 65%.
This drink also has various flavors often categorized leading to taste variations.
Let’s look into it:
- Sauce aroma: Talking about sauce, the most popular one in China is obviously soy sauce. And in this variant, you’re likely to get this flavor. .
- Light aroma: This variant is gives off dried fruit and floral aroma. .
- Rice aroma: It has a steamed rice like smell which is obvious given its name and has a mold aftertaste. Rice wine is the base in this flavor, and you may get a honey and cherry notes. .
- Strongest aroma: It’s the strongest one among these flavors but its flavor is surprisingly fruity and floral.
What Does Baijiu Taste Like?
Anyone who have tasted this drink will say it has a distinct flavor.
From describing it as a funky with a rotten flavor to sweet fruit, expect variants of opinion like the drink itself.
In short, baijiu has a complex taste profile which some might find it strong or overwhelming.
Not everyone is fan of this spirit, but the ones who got used to the taste pretty much loves it.
Since this clear liquor is primarily made from fermented sorghum, it gives a pungent flavor along with strong fruity notes.
The spirit is like a pineapple punch but stronger in flavor with a hint of floral notes.
Some even describe it as a mix of sweet tropical flavor and burnt rubber.
Regardless of its taste, this liquor is also known to have high alcohol proof.
A sip of this drink is going to give a burn in your mouth.
If your alcohol tolerance level is slow, drink sporadically.
Since this spirit has several flavors, you may opt one that suits your taste and preferences.
For instance, you may opt light flavor baijiu if you prefer a subtle drink.
Due to its distinct taste, it’s hard to compare with other spirit like gin or tequila which are comparatively light in flavor.
Some say it’s like soju, however it doesn’t have pungent smell like baijiu.
How to Drink and Serve Baijiu?
In China, this spirit is served at room temperature and neat.
It’s usually consumed during company dinner or meals where a series of shots is followed.
If your alcohol tolerance level is high, you can have it neat.
However, we recommend having it with food preferably oily dishes and meat.
Its intense flavor makes an incredible accompaniment to this type of food items.
Another way to enjoy this colorless liquor is by using it in cocktail recipes.
Surprisingly, it makes the drink better due to its strong floral and fruity aroma.
Here is a simple baijiu tonic recipe that you can prepare yourself:
- Two ounces of baijiu.
- Tonic water.
- Fresh lime juice.
- Ice cubes.
- Lime wedge.
- Take a highball glass and add the spirit, ice cubes, lime juice.
- Top it off with tonic water and stir the mix gently.
- Lastly, garnish it with lime wedge.
- If you’re not a fan its strong flavor, try this simple yet refreshing recipe.
- Or create your own version by replacing tonic with fruit juice like pineapple juice.
The option is endless.
Note that it’s a strong drink, hence it would be better to drink in moderation to prevent potential health risk.
Baijiu may not be like your regular spirit due to its strong flavor and aroma.
Most people find this drink strange which is pretty much understandable.
It has fruity and floral note encased with pungent flavor which some finds it off putting.
Nevertheless, do give it a shot to refine your palate and try interesting new flavors.
Even better if you have it with a bunch of your close friends.
Whether you like it or not, either way it builds up a good story and memory.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does baijiu taste like vodka?
No, baijiu does not taste like vodka. Baijiu is a distilled Chinese liquor made with sorghum, wheat, barley or rice and has a distinct flavor.
It can be described as having a strong scent, usually sweet and sour in taste and nippy on the tongue.
The alcohol content of baijiu varies from 40 to 60%, so it is much stronger than vodka.
How do you make baijiu taste good?
One way to improve the taste of baijiu is by adding other ingredients such as honey, ginger, or sugar.
These can help to balance out the strong flavor and make it more palatable. Adding warm water can also help to bring out its sweetness.
Experimenting with different flavors and mixtures is a great way to find what you prefer.
What foods pair best with baijiu?
Baijiu pairs well with a variety of dishes, especially those that are salty or spicy.
Some examples include hotpot, dumplings, kimchi, and stir-fried vegetables. It is also great for toasting when celebrating a special occasion.
Many Chinese dishes, such as Peking duck and Szechuan cuisine, also go well with baijiu. So there is something for everyone to enjoy when pairing baijiu with food!
How do Chinese drink baijiu?
Baijiu is usually served neat as a shot, or it can be enjoyed with ice. It is also often used in cocktails and mixed drinks, such as baijiu mojitos or baijiu margaritas.
When drinking together among friends, it’s common for people to take turns pouring each other shots of baijiu in a show of respect and friendship.
It’s an essential part of Chinese drinking culture, so it’s worth giving it a try!