Chinese Wine Distillery (Bai Jiu)
Baijiu is a mysterious, complex drink and its nuances elude many uninitiated drinkers. That complexity starts, quite literally, with wild yeasts, and bacteria. In Sichuan where baijiu was first produced, it is still made in giant underground, mud-lined fermentation pits. We were afforded the rare opportunity to get a first-hand look at the whole baijiu making process, at one of the biggest and oldest producers in China – Jian Nan Chun.
The Jian Nan Chun distillery is located in MianZhu, about an hour north-east of Chengdu. It is famous, not only as one of the biggest producers in China, but for having the oldest fermentation pit in continuous use. The baijiu produced here was also famous for ‘inspiring’ specific poems and writing in general by famous historical poets LiBai and DuFu. Both men’s penchant for the drink was no secret.
Sichuan is where baijiu production was believed to have developed, and the ‘strong aroma’ variety still made here is one of the most interesting and unique varieties. Strong Aroma baijius use the poetically named ‘10,000 year pit’ and ‘never ending mash’ which make it fascinating from a fermentation perspective as well as for the drinker.