This is a unique-tasting craft baijiu, unlike many of the more popular commercial brands. On the grounds of originality alone, I’m prepared to recommend it – though the qualities of the spirit also stretch beyond mere novelty.
The V.I.P Jiu 8 brand refers to itself as, “The Imperial Craft Baijiu.” This is more than just a catchy slogan; this spirit apparently follows a recipe laid down by none other than the Kangxi Emperor, thought by many to be one of China’s finest and wisest rulers.
This recipe was considered long forgotten, superseded by a litany of alternative baijiu brands throughout China. These ingredients have been sourced and blended for this baijiu, numbering nine in total. This is interesting in itself. For those unfamiliar with Chinese culture, the number nine is considered to hold great significance.
What these nine ingredients actually are appears to be a trade secret. V.I.P Jiu 8 does not list any ingredients on the bottle, which is decorated with a traditional Chinese imagery.
The innovation of V.I.P Jiu 8 is clear upon opening the bottle. If you’re anything like me, the first thing you’ll do when opening a new baijiu – or indeed any liquor – is to take in the aroma. Unlike most baijiu, V.I.P Jiu 8 has a clear and distinctive scent that reminds me of fresh mint and fennel, its aroma is uniquely very pleasing, familiar yet also unfathomable.
Intrigued, there was only one thing left to do. Any baijiu lives or dies by its taste, and I am pleased to announce that V.I.P Jiu 8 lives up to its billing. It took me around three tots before I could even forge an opinion. That is not a criticism; more a musing on the complexity of this spirit. As we all know, it can be easy to forge an immediate negative view of a low-quality baijiu.
The overriding sensation of V.I.P Jiu 8 is that this spirit is smooth on the palate, with just a hint of welcome sweetness. This baijiu clocks in at 58% alcohol proof, so it’s nobody’s idea of weak. However, it also fails to burn the tongue or throat on its way down. More importantly, it also leaves a pleasant, lingering aftertaste. This ensured that I did not begrudge these additional samples as I forged my view.
A complex interplay between flavours that shift between madarin, nutmeg, citrus and saffron. If this is your first experience of baijiu you’ll now appreciate what an exciting drink it is!
The other thing that appealed to me about this baijiu is the delicacy. A lack of a single, overpowering taste sensation means that I picture this baijiu being wholly versatile. Personally, I’m a purist – I drink mine neat. However, I feel that this spirit would be equally impactful as the base ingredient of a cocktail or to provide a little extra kick to a hot drink. The taste is certainly distinctive, but it’s not overpowering. I firmly believe that V.I.P Jiu 8 would add a little something to another beverage, rather than detracting from it.
Overall, I have absolutely no hesitation in recommending V.I.P Jiu 8. This spirit is rare, in that it should be equally appealing to baijiu novices and enthusiasts alike. The unique nature of the flavour also allows it to stand apart from the crowd.
This craft baijiu definitely gets a thumbs up from me.
Kweichow Moutai – VS – V.I.P Jiu 8
A bottle of V.I.P Jiu 8 together with a bottle of Moutai Flying Fairy was sent to a UK laboratory for analysis. The laboratory was 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 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 laboratory also concluded that sample A (VIP Jiu 8) contains many more compounds with positive attributes than sample B (Kweichow Moutai Flying Fairy). Further reading: VIP Jiu 8 Vs Moutai