The Largest Alcoholic Spirit Category in the World

Wednesday, May 29, 2019 at 10:02 AM

What is the largest category of alcoholic spirits in the world? If you guessed whisky, you would be wrong. Gin? Nope. Rum? Wrong again. Tequila? Not even close. In fact, the largest alcoholic spirit category in the world is not particularly well-known in the States. But with 5 billion litres sold per year, Baijiu – a clear, white, grain-based, Chinese liquor, also known as “Shaojiu,” lays claim to the title of king of spirits.

Tracing its history back to the Han Dynasty, nearly 2,000 years ago, Baijiu uses a fermentation process based on Qu (pronounced “chew”) rather than yeast, which is common in most other spirits production processes. Like many dark spirits, Baijiu derives a variety of distinctive flavors based on the blend of grains used, which may include Sorghum, Wheat, Rice, Sticky Rice, and Corn.

While Baijiu cocktails have recently gained in popularity in the Far East, traditionally, Baijiu is traditionally served neat, at room temperature. Be advised, Baijiu can pack quite a wallop. While most popular American whiskies weigh in at around 80 proof, common Baijiu brands range from 86 to 112 proof.