A Guide To Buying Baijiu – How To Choose Baijiu For Sale

A Guide To Buying Baijiu - Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale

Looking to buy the best Chinese baijiu brands? – Searching for baijiu near me, UK stockists, prices and tips on how to choose a quality baijiu for sale online or offline? Before buying any brand of baijiu read our in-depth guide below.

How to buy baijiu – The beginner’s guide

Baijiu remains the single most successful spirit in the world that many westerners are unfamiliar with. The world grows smaller, however, curiosity surrounding the national drink of China is growing in other countries around the world. More and more people are intrigued by baijiu and are keen to buy and sample this alcohol beverage for themselves.

Buying baijiu in the UK is a bit hit and miss though, especially for baijiu beginners. There are hundreds of baijiu brands for sale, and as with any product in the marketplace, some are effortlessly superior to others. Throughout this guide, we will explain exactly how a baijiu novice should go about finding and choosing their first bottle of baijiu for sale online or offline in the UK.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

What is baijiu?

If you’re on this page, we like to imagine that you some idea of what baijiu is. Here is a crash course in this unique Chinese liquor to bring you up to speed.

  • Pronounced, “bye-joe”, baijiu takes its name from its colour and content. Bai loosely translates as, “transparent”, while jiu is Chinese for, “alcoholic beverage”
  • Baijiu is typically made from sorghum grains and water
  • Baijiu is unofficially considered the national drink of China – although one major baijiu brand lost a legal battle to market itself as such
  • Baijiu is the most-consumed spirit in the world, outselling vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila and rum combined
  • Over 14,000 distilleries around the world produce baijiu, the vast majority being in mainland China.

There is so much more to know about baijiu, though. As this spirit is comparatively unknown in the west, it’s easy to be duped into buying the wrong brand of baijiu. That’s where we come in. This guide will try to explain everything you need to know about price, quality and tips when looking to buy a quality baijiu brand.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top


Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8
Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8

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.

Guess which baijiu came out on top and blew a $200 BILLION multi-award-winning baijiu brand clean out of the water?

Find out here: Moutai Scientific Analysis – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8 Scientific Analysis

What is baijiu?


Why buy baijiu?

There are many reasons why you should consider bringing baijiu into your life. Just some of these include:

  • Baijiu is unlike any spirit in the west, promising a unique taste experience
  • Baijiu is slowly making inroads into western culture, meaning that it may soon become increasingly commonplace
  • Baijiu can be a highly sought-after collector’s item, making it a sound investment
  • Baijiu is a cultural cornerstone in China, ensuring you’ll enjoy a taste of the east with every sip
  • Baijiu makes an excellent companion to many foods (Further reading: What food pairs well with baijiu)
  • Baijiu, provided you choose the right brand and bottle, is delicious!

Of course, everybody will have their reasons for investing in baijiu. You need to weigh up why you are interested in this spirit and decide if it is truly suitable for your needs. All we’ll say is, how will you know if you don’t try?

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

Where can I buy baijiu?

The fact is, baijiu is a niche product in the west. This means you will not find it in the spirit aisle of even the largest supermarket such as Tescos. Baijiu is costly to import for wholesalers, and it simply does not shift enough units yet to justify this outlay.

This leaves you with two choices. The first is to head to a Chinese supermarket. You may well find baijiu for sale in such a location – just ask if you’re unsure. Be aware though, such locales may not offer the finest brands of baijiu available. The baijiu brands offered for sale in such locations are likely to be of inferior quality and at the lower end of the price spectrum – which can lead to your first baijiu experience not being a pleasant one and may put you of for life. Some sub-standard baijiu is referred to as, “firewater” and is every bit as unappealing as that sounds.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, your second option is to scour the internet and buy baijiu online. International spirit purveyors will have plenty of baijiu for sale for you to choose from. You may need to pay import duty if you ship overseas, but it’s worthwhile.

While a handful of big baijiu brands are making efforts to crack the UK marketplace, the most expensive brands of baijiu are mainly for sale only in China. Once you are a little more familiar with baijiu, you can join an online baijiu community and discuss your wish lists with professional dealers and collectors.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

Is baijiu the right spirit for me?

We consider baijiu to be the greatest spirit around, but we concede that we are potentially biased. It’s undeniable that for every baijiu enthusiast, there are may more spirit drinkers that prefer to give it a wide berth – including an array of professional bartenders.

So, how do you know that you’ll enjoy baijiu? The short answer is, you don’t. Like any new taste sensation, trying baijiu for the first time will be 50/50 whether you enjoy it or not. In just a moment, we’ll explain how you can potentially circumnavigate any pitfalls and avoid picking up a substandard bottle.

All the same, we do not recommend you buy baijiu if…

  • You cannot tolerate strong liquor with a high ABV – baijiu is not for the weak of heart
  • Do you like tall drinks? Then baijiu is not for you as its best sipped and savoured
  • You are deterred by strong aromas? Your first experience with baijiu will be its strong aroma
  • You are nervous about trying something entirely unfamiliar. Baijiu tastes unlike any popular western spirit
  • You are not prepared to work to acquire a taste for this spirit – it may take several encounters to fully appreciate and embrace baijiu
  • You are seeking a cheap way to get intoxicated. Good baijiu comes with a hefty price tag attached. The cheaper alternative baijiu brands are cheap for a reason

If these restrictions do not apply to you, you’re set for an unforgettable baijiu-tasting adventure. In many respects, we envy you. We would give anything to be able to enjoy baijiu for the first time again.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top


Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8
Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8

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.

Guess which baijiu came out on top and blew a $200 BILLION multi-award-winning baijiu brand clean out of the water?

Find out here: Moutai Scientific Analysis – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8 Scientific Analysis

Where can I buy baijiu?


Choosing the perfect baijiu to buy

So, you have decided that you are keen to investigate baijiu. Congratulations – you have made a choice that will open your mind, and palate, to a new world of taste sensations.

As discussed though, finding good baijiu for sale is not as simple as scanning the shelves of your local Tescos and picking a bottle at random. The scarcity of baijiu in the west adds to the mystique of this spirit. Equally though, it can make it costly. What’s more, a bad baijiu experience may scar your tastebuds for life. Not all baijiu is created equal.

Everybody has that one spirit that they cannot abide. For some it’s whiskey, for others it’s tequila, or others still it may be gin. Whatever the bottle contains, the reason will usually be the same. The spirit left a foul taste in the mouth or was consumed to excess. Both of these can be hazards for a baijiu novice. As this spirit is so strong and carries such a distinct taste and aroma, a substandard first impression could sour you on baijiu for life, which is unfortunate.

We’re keen to avoid such an eventuality. That’s why we have comprised this, the ultimate guide to buying the perfect baijiu for first-timers. If you follow these steps, you’ll understand just what makes this spirit so special. Welcome to our 7-step guide to buying baijiu.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

Buying baijiu – What aroma?

If you were asked to bring a bottle of wine to a social event or ordering in a restaurant, you’ll consider whether red or white is appropriate. If you’re a whisky enthusiast, you’ll be keen to differentiate between scotch, malted, bourbon and rye. The same applies to baijiu. Head into a bar in China and ask for baijiu and you’ll be met with a blank stare. There are 12 main aroma types of baijiu, each of which boasts its own unique charms. These are classified as:

Overall, however, most baijiu brands are divided into one of four ‘core’ categories, separated by the aroma. Learning which of these will appeal to your palate is the first step to purchasing baijiu.

 

AROMA

TASTING NOTES

Light

Popular in northern China, especially Beijing, light aroma baijiu is made from sorghum rather than grain. If you head to an Asian supermarket, you’ll likely find Red Star on sale. Don’t be fooled by the name ‘light’, though – this only applies to the aroma. Most light aroma baijiu boasts an ABV above 50%.

Rice

As you may have guessed by the name, rice aroma baijiu is made from rice. This makes it similar in flavour to traditional Chinese wine, or even Japanese sake. Only consumed in south China, rice baijiu is a gentler introduction and is usually cheap, but few enthusiasts recommend it. It is considered inferior to grain-based baijiu.

Sauce

Sauce aroma baijiu uses more jiaqu in the production process, which leads to a strong aroma of soy sauce. Some of the finest baijiu brands in the world are sauce aroma, most notably Kweichow Moutai, the biggest baijiu brand in the world. This is the baijiu served at Chinese state banquets.

Strong

Strong aroma baijiu is traditionally produced in the Sichuan region. Such baijiu is made from a range of different ingredients, hence the stronger aroma. This also means that strong aroma baijiu is among the most complex on the palate. It’s certainly a full-blooded baijiu experience but it may be a bit much for a baijiu newbie.

 

If you’re a baijiu novice, we recommend making a start with a rice aroma baijiu. This is the most simplistic baijiu on the palate, and often the cheapest – albeit harder to find. Strong or sauce aroma baijiu’s are considered classier and more commonly available. As rice aroma baijiu is rarely consumed outside southern China, you may need to pay comparatively large import fees and work hard to track down a stockist.

The delicacy of rice aroma baijiu may also be more of a hindrance than a help. After all, the idea of baijiu is to experience something new. If you’re prepared to leap into the world of baijiu head first, pick up a reputable sauce or strong aroma baijiu. This will ensure the full baijiu experience. Just be certain you are prepared for such a thing. Overall, we’d say that fans of clear spirits like vodka or gin will probably enjoy a light aroma most. If you are more experienced in stronger, complex flavours though – especially whiskey or dark rum – you are likelier to cope well with the sauce or strong aroma baijiu variants.

To aid your shopping expedition, here are some of the most popular brands for each style of baijiu. Do not commit to purchasing until you have read the remainder of this guide, though. You still have much to learn.

 

AROMA

POPULAR BRANDS

Light

Fenjiu, Xifengjiu, Snowbridge No. 1, Red Star, Laobai Fenchiew

Imperial

V.I.P Jiu 8

Rice

Changleshao, Lao Guilin, Guilin Sanhua Jiu, Xiangshan Dongcang, Xiangshan

Sauce

Moutai, Snowbridge No. 4, Lang Jiu, Chuanqi Zhenjiu

Strong

Wuliangye, Gujing Gongjiu, Jian Nan Chun, Shui Jing Fang, HKB

This is just a small list to get you started. Have a look into each baijiu brand to see if they appeal to your wants and expectations.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top


Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8
Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8

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.

Guess which baijiu came out on top and blew a $200 BILLION multi-award-winning baijiu brand clean out of the water?

Find out here: Moutai Scientific Analysis – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8 Scientific Analysis

Buying baijiu – What aroma?


How to drink baijiu and pair with foods

In China baijiu is typically enjoyed like a shot, especially at a business meeting. There are other ways to drink baijiu, though. Consider how you will be consuming yours. This will help you decide upon the best bottle to pick up. (Further reading: How to drink baijiu)

Take food pairings as an example. Baijiu is often served with meals in China. Let’s refer back to our comparison to wine. You would not serve a fruity red wine with fish, or a dry white wine with venison. The same applies to baijiu. Different food pairings bring out the best in baijiu. Consider what you enjoy serving at dinner parties and similar gatherings and choose a baijiu to match. This, again, will give you the best chance of enjoying your choice of baijiu. Done right, baijiu is more than just a spirit – it’s part of a dining experience. (Further reading: What foods go well with baijiu)

 

AROMA

FOOD PAIRINGS

Light

Although still high in ABV, light aroma baijiu is comparatively delicate and floral on the palate. If you have a steel stomach, you could pair this baijiu with salad or lightly grilled vegetables. It is probably best served as a companion for scaly fish or chicken, though. Unlike heavier-scented baijiu, it will clash with red meat and create an unfavourable taste match.

Rice

Rice aroma baijiu is similar to the light aroma in taste. It can be used with white meats. Alternatively, do as the Chinese do and pair this baijiu with appetisers, such as hors d’oeuvres or a prawn cocktail. Just remember, it’s still high in alcohol so do not sink too much rice aroma baijiu ahead of eating.

Sauce

Sauce aroma baijiu has a very distinctive scent. This means it must be paired with food that’s just as potent. Red meat is ideal, especially when coated in a thick sauce. Pulled pork slathered in BBQ sauce, for example, will pair well with sauce aroma baijiu. Pickled and barbequed Asian cuisine is also a popular pairing with sauce aroma baijiu. Go easy on the salt, though as this baijiu has a strong soy sauce flavour.

Strong

As we mentioned previously, strong aroma baijiu is most prominently produced in the Sichuan area. If you have ever eaten food from this territory, you’ll know that it’s typically hot and spicy. This makes strong aroma baijiu is a natural match for mouth-burning, sauce-heavy Asian meals, especially meat dishes. The baijiu will cut through any fat and gristle, in addition to neutralising a little of the burning aftertaste.

Of course, there is nothing to say that you cannot simply enjoy your baijiu in liquid form. If you’re new to the spirit, you may wish to consider making a baijiu cocktail. Applying mixers, especially citrus-based flavours, can temper some of the harsher edges of baijiu. Any baijiu can be used with a cocktail. We recommend heading straight for a sauce aroma baijiu in such an instance, though. You’ll create an interesting and complex concoction, and still have a high-quality baijiu to enjoy alone once your tastebuds have adapted. (Further reading: Baijiu cocktail guide)

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

Choosing an area of production before you buy baijiu

The area that baijiu is made will have bearing on what type you choose. Whiskey drinkers would likely feel comfortable purchasing a dram from the Scottish Highlands, and less so from, say, Nordic Europe. Equally, a wine produced in the south of France will always be more appealing than a bottled produced in Malta or Cyprus.

Different territories in China specialise in different types of Baijiu, officially classified by the aroma. This is partly due to the taste preferences of the locals, but also due to the local climate and water quality. When choosing a baijiu to buy, try to find out where the distillery is located.

  • Light Aroma Baijiu should only hail from northern China. You can rarely go wrong with a bottle distilled in Beijing. Anything else may be a cheap alternative.
  • Rice Aroma Baijiu hails from the southeast of China. If a bottle is not distilled in Guangxi, Guangdong or Fujian, think very carefully about purchasing it.
  • Sauce Aroma Baijiu is best enjoyed from the south of China, especially along the Chishui River. This produces the finest and purest natural water sources for the baijiu.
  • Strong Aroma Baijiu is the pride of the Sichuan Province, with the town of Luzhou among the finest manufacturers. Strong aroma baijiu is made all over China due to its popularity, but Sichuan remains the spiritual home of this liquor

Obviously, the choice is yours. Location of distillation should always be a consideration when looking to buy a good baijiu brand. By selecting a baijiu that matches the chief output of a Chinese territory, you are likelier to enjoy an authentic experience which mirrors that of the locals.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

Research the history and production techniques of baijiu

Part of the appeal of baijiu is the rich history that surrounds this spirit. Baijiu has a long and illustrious heritage in China. It is still used for medicinal purposes in some provinces, while certain baijiu recipes – such as V.I.P Jiu 8 – can even be traced back to the days of the Chinese Emperors.

If a baijiu recipe was deemed good enough for royalty, you can be assured that it will satisfy your palate. What’s more, the more history lies behind a baijiu brand, the likelier the production techniques are to remain in the realm of the classical.

All baijiu distilleries have embraced technology to greater or lesser extents. Some, however, will stick with old-fashioned practices – including asking the women of a village to trample grains with their bare feet to preserve certain qualities. By studying the history and production technique of your chosen baijiu, you’ll fully embrace the effort and timeless quality that has been applied to its making. (Further reading: Baijiu historyHow is baijiu made)

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

Weigh up the price of baijiu

There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to buying baijiu. The price point varies dramatically from bottle to bottle. You could pick up a bottle of Red Star from an Asian supermarket and get change from a £20 note. Look into importing a bottle of Kweichow Moutai, however, and you could quickly start creeping into four figures. You’re certainly unlikely to find it for much less than £300.

As we will discuss in a moment, fine baijiu is also considered collectable in China. The aforementioned Kweichow Moutai, for example, is often housed in specialist bottles and produced in extremely small numbers. If you’re just purchasing baijiu to drink, there is no need to spend quite so much.

Age and quality will always play into the price of baijiu, as will luck regarding who you are purchasing from. Some wholesalers will willingly exploit western ignorance toward the going rate for baijiu. Our advice to be prepared to spend between £70-100 for a quality baijiu. If you’re ordering from overseas, be sure to factor any potential import fees into the total cost too.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

Understand baijiu collectability

Some brands of baijiu are considered a collector’s item in China. This means that purchasing baijiu could be more than just a way to enjoy a tipple. You could eventually be sitting on a goldmine if you hold onto it for a prolonged period.

We find ourselves referring back to Moutai again here. Being the baijiu consumed at state functions, this alcohol holds a particularly treasured place in the heart of Chinese nationals. So much so that rare and collectable bottles of Kweichow Moutai are regularly sold at auction at Christie’s Shanghai. The first-ever baijiu-only auction raised some £2.65m.

So, does this mean that you should consider importing baijiu as an investment opportunity? The answer is … not really, at least until you know more about the subject. Genuinely rare, collectable baijiu is hard to come by and competition for it is fierce. You could easily find yourself on the wrong side of a bidding war. It’s also tough to sell here in Blighty. You are unlikely to find people willing to pay the kind of prices you’d be hoping to gain outside of China.

What’s more, where there is money to be made, there will also be opportunistic scammers. Fake baijiu, especially Moutai, floods the black market of China and is a serious concern for the local authorities. Unless you are a bona fide expert, it’s easy to be fooled by a forgery. Smart scammers even reuse genuine, collectable vintage Kweichow Moutai bottles.

Consider the collectability of baijiu before you purchase. Is the price you have been quoted because the baijiu retails at that price, or because the bottle may be deemed to be a future collectable? If so, probably best to leave these collector’s pieces to the experts.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top


Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8
Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8

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.

Guess which baijiu came out on top and blew a $200 BILLION multi-award-winning baijiu brand clean out of the water?

Find out here: Moutai Scientific Analysis – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8 Scientific Analysis

The price of baijiu


Ensure you buy genuine baijiu

As discussed, the collectability of baijiu means that forgeries can be commonplace. A baijiu seller will be banking on a novice not being able to spot a genuine spirit from a fake. You mustn’t fall foul to such skulduggery.

Sadly, it’s near impossible to check whether a baijiu is genuine when shopping online. All you can do is place your faith in a reputable seller and trust that you are not being taken for a ride. Once your baijiu arrives, however, there are some tests you can perform at home.

We strongly recommend checking the authenticity of your baijiu before drinking it. The dangers of counterfeit baijiu are well known. You must know what you are about to consume is safe. There are three simple steps to achieve this.

  • Pour a few drops of baijiu in your hand and rub them briskly, as though you’re applying hand sanitiser after a shopping excursion. Hold your hands to your nose and inhale deeply. Do your hands simply smell alcohol? If so, the baijiu is likely fraudulent. You should detect a strong, unmistakable scent of grain. Move onto the second test to be sure.
  • Most baijiu comes in a transparent bottle. If yours does not, check that this should be the case (a Google image search will be your friend here) and grab a torch. Ensure the cap to the bottle is firmly affixed and shake the bottle. You should spot bubbles at the top of the bottle. This is a sign of genuine baijiu. If the liquid remains distinctly bubble-free, it is likely fake.
  • Finally pour a little baijiu into a bowl then apply tea from a teapot (just tea – no milk or sugar required!) This causes one of two colour shade reactions. If the baijiu turns purple, tip the whole lot away. It’s a dangerous fake. Genuine baijiu will turn a golden shade of yellow when mixed with tea.

If your baijiu does not pass these tests, we are sorry to say that you may have been duped. Do not take any chances. Chalk this up to experience and give serious consideration to reporting the seller to the relevant authorities. You will not be the only person to fall for fake baijiu. Eventually, somebody will pay more than just a financial price for the deception.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top

Buying baijiu conclusion

Here endeth our insights into purchasing a quality baijiu. None of our warnings are designed to deter you from taking the plunge and experiencing this spirit for yourself. Quite the opposite. We want everybody to enjoy this amazing alcohol. That’s why we’re keen to ensure that you have the greatest experience possible.

As a summary, here’s the best way to ensure you are enjoying the best possible baijiu.

  • Choose an aroma that suits your palate
  • Research the production techniques and home territory of the brand
  • Find a price point that suits your budget without raising suspicion
  • Decide if you’d like a collector’s item or simply a bottle of baijiu
  • Ensure the spirit is not counterfeit

Once you have ticked these boxes, there is nothing left to do but pour yourself a tot and raise a glass. Ganbei, everybody.

A Guide To Buying Baijiu – Tips On How To Choose Baijiu For Sale – Top


Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8
Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8

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.

Guess which baijiu came out on top and blew a $200 BILLION multi-award-winning baijiu brand clean out of the water?

Find out here: Moutai Scientific Analysis – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8 Scientific Analysis

Buying baijiu conclusion



Chinese Antique Valuations And Appraisals

Do you own a piece of Chinese porcelain or an oriental work of art that you would like to know more about, such as age, history and value?

Then you should really consider using our Chinese Antique Valuation Service as the last thing you want to do is risk under selling the piece due to lack of knowledge or ill gotten advice.