Baijiu, or shaojiu, is a distinctively tasting 53 percent proof Chinese alcoholic beverage distilled from mountain water, sorghum and grain.
The name literally means ‘white liquor’, ‘white alcohol’ or ‘white spirits’. Clear in appearance like vodka, baijiu is normally served in small shot glass and gulped down in one go.
One of the most famous brands, Maotai, named after Mao Tai in Guizhou Province, is traditionally used to toast distinguished guests at state banquets.
It was used to toast the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1, 1949 and Chairman Mao welcomed US President Nixon with Maotai during his trip to China in 1972. Other foreign guests to be treated to the drink include Margaret Thatcher to Kim Il-sung,
Today the purity of the water in the Chishui River, which Kweichow Moutai, maker of Maotai, draws on to make the beverage, is menaced by the illegal building of 39 other alcoholic drinks plants along its banks.
The resulting pollution of the air and water seriously threatens the environmental security of the river and the production base of Maotai, said China’s Xinhua news agency yesterday, adding that the illegal factories have been fined and ordered to close.
Kweichow Moutai reported sales worth 5.3 billion yuan (about 688.3 million dollars) last year, against about 4.2 billion yuan (about 538.46 million dollars) the previous year.
Xinhua – China View