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TABLE 2 ELEVEN DISTINCT STYLES OF BAIJIU The initial categorization outline shown here was originally devised by Sandhaus in his important contribution in bringing the details of baijiu into the English language and consciousness (6,7). See also: www.jiangjidistillery.com/knowledge/types-of-baijiu/. Other named categories are listed here — including Xiao Qu Light Aroma — with the light style’s floral aroma and the aromatics of rice, and Fuyu Xiang with “Extra-Strong Aroma,” noted for “pungent earthy fragrance and a spicysweet taste.” Fuyu-flavor is a cross between light and strong and rice flavor baijiu’s with ethyl caproate, ethyl lactate and ethyl acetate as primary aroma compounds (“Light, strong, and rice flavor traits”). Additional details added here can be found expanded upon elsewhere (5, 12-14, 20-24). See also the schematic in Figure 1. Category Flavor Type

Raw Materials and Process Details

(Based on Aroma Characteristics) Simple and mixed grain types (Sorghum or sorghum, rice, Nong Xiang glutinous rice, corn and wheat—with wheat-based big qu). FerOnce classed as Luzhou-flavor mented in rectangular earthen/soil pits covered with a mixture of Strong Aroma—70% total liquor produc- fermentation or “pit mud”—continuous fermentation. Anaerobic conditions allow for the cultivation and diversification of the fertion have strong fruity, pineapple- and banana-like aromas. Wuliangye and Jian- mentative microbes which contribute to the desired flavor profile. Distillation in pot stills and aged in ceramic or stainless steel. See nanchun are two famous brands text for more.

Qing Xiang

Once classed as Fen-flavor Light Aroma Light flavor

Jiang Xiang

Once classed as Maotai-flavor Soy-sauce (Sauce aroma)

Mi Xiang Sweet-honey or Rice Aroma Rice flavor

Jian Xiang Complex (“Mixed”) aroma type Miscellaneous-flavor baijiu

Zhima Xiang Roasted-sesame-like Sesame aroma

Yao Xiang Chinese herb-like (Medicine aroma) Medicine flavor

Feng Xiang Fengxiang (“Phoenix”)—aroma [Feng-aroma] Feng flavor

Laobaigan Xiang Laobaiganxiang—aroma Laobaigan aroma

Chi Xiang Chixiang—Chi aroma Or Fat aroma (see notes at right)

Te Xiang Texiang—(“Special”) aroma WWW.ART ISANSP IRITMAG.COM  

Flavor Characteristic

Plus, sensory descriptors geographic origins and side-notes of interest (4, 5, 21) “Fragrant flavor, soft mouthfeel with a long aftertaste.” “Fruity, flower, pineapple-like, banana-like, apple-like aromas.” Most popular and widely produced baijiu. Fiery with fruity sweetness. Tropical fruit, white pepper and anise (pineapple and licorice perhaps with notable chemical constituents—see text) noted also here with certain regional brands (though likened to paint thinner to the uninitiated). Geographic ties to Sichuan in southwest China and eastern provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu and Shandong. Off-odors can arise from contaminating bacteria—such as a mud-like off-odor—3-methylindole (with musty and strong animal/fecal odors)

From sorghum and rice husks. Fermentation is in ceramic or stone jars using big qu starter (Qu = barley, peas and wheat bran). Two processes common for the distillation including pot stills and twice fermented and distilled types of operations.

“Pure, mild flavor with mellow sweetness and a refreshing aftertaste.” “Pleasant fruity, floral aroma.” Second largest category by volume. Generally, mild and floral sweetness with some fruity notes*. Associated with Northern China. Bottled 65% ABV and above. *A specific brand noted by Sandhaus (7) though described as roasted herbs, chrysanthemum and pine-like creating a heady mix of flavors. The earthy/musty compound geosmin has also been suggested as a notable component.

Production is labor and resource intensive. Eight rounds of fermentation and distillation—sorghum—in underground pits lined with stone bricks.

“Soy sauce with full bodied long-lasting aroma.” Lingering fragrance— resembling soy-sauce. Herbal and fermented bean notes also described along with smoky, bitter, earthy and umami descriptors; also, shitake mushrooms! Southeastern Sichuan and northwestern Guizhou.

Distilled from long grain rice, or glutinous rice or a combination with fermentation in stone jars with small rice qu. Distillation is sometimes done with continuous still operations. Aged in limestone caves in ceramic jars.

“Soft sweet flavor and clean aftertaste.” May be infused with fruit, herbs or tea flowers and has a mild sake-like taste. Southeast China—Guangxi and Guangdong provinces.

Produced via a combination of production methods or blending from two different baijiu styles.

Characteristics “between those of sauce aroma (Maotai) and strong aromas (Luzhon).” See (Nong Xiang) and ( Jiang Xiang) type aromas and flavors.

From sorghum and wheat qu. Sometimes millet and barley are used. Fermented at high temperatures in mud-bottom-lined stone pits.

“Combining fruity with sweaty, roasted sesame-like and floral flavors.” Since 1957. Close relative of sauce-aroma baijiu but with a more charred-like and nutty flavor from Maillard reactions.

Medicinal aroma also called Dong aroma. Sorghum base. Two types of white mud- and each juice- lined pits are used—one using big qu, the other with rice qu and filled with herbs. The subsequent ferments (mashes) are mixed and distilled.

“Herb-like with sour aroma.” Sweet and savory flavors are also noted for this style.

Mainly distilled from sorghum as raw material—fermentation in earthen (mud-lined) pits with wheat, barley and peas composition qu. Aged in rattan baskets with unique oil, wax and pig-blood impregnated cloth sacks or in ceramic urns.

“Sweet, mellow, and elegant aftertaste.” West Phoenix Spirit”. From Fengxiang country in Shanxi Province. Has strong and light aroma characteristics. Fruity aroma, grainy in taste with long finish.

A unique distillery’s product—this one similar to the light aroma style. However, wheat is used instead of barley along with peas in the qu production. Aged for shorter period than typical for light aroma style.

“Soft mellow characteristics and a rich mouthfeel.” Similar to light-aroma baijiu. Fruity, but with a high heat from alcohol (bottled at 65%+ ABV).

From Guangdong Province. From rice. Qu is Xiaoqu with organisms and associated enzymes spontaneously proliferated on cooked rice and soybeans. Following fermentation, the liquor is distilled out with steam and the base distillate, then aged in sealed pottery jars. At the start of storage, a whole piece of cooked pork is soaked in the base distillate to help remove unpleasant off-flavor compounds. At about 30 days the distillate is filtered out, matured in stainless steel tanks for 20 days then adjusted to desired alcohol strength and blended and packaged.

“Fermented soybean-like with clean aftertaste.” The flavor is that of a salty condiment made from fermented beans (soybean flavor). Has rice aroma and aged with the infusion of pork fat—thus also called fat aroma (zhi xiang) with oily and bacon nuances.

A unique distillery’s production using rice and big qu. Red stone bricks sealed with mud are used here.

“Harmonious strong and light flavor” Earthy aromatics with a light, though rich taste and slightly tart finish/ aftertaste.


Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Spring 2020  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Spring 2020  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

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