All in the mix: Famous white liquor embraced by international tasters

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2022-07-29


Jean Lou Blanchier, an official of a business association in France, is introduced to Chinese liquor by a Xinghuacun Fenjiu executive. [Photo by Wen Zhaoyan for China Daily]

Xinghuacun Fenjiu, a renowned producer of white liquor, or baijiu, made its latest attempt to please the taste buds of French people, by hosting a Chinese-style cocktail party on June 21 in the province of Seine Saint-Denis, in cooperation with local dealers and local industrial associations.

Nearly 300 guests, including local officials, business representatives and residents, attended the event.

Playing a leading role at the party was the baijiu variety labeled 30 percent proof, contained in a blue-and-white porcelain bottle, whose elegant design with Oriental characteristics immediately attracted the attention of guests.

Francois Asselin, chairman of the association for small and medium-sized enterprises in Seine Saint-Denis, was present at the event. He said he was greatly impressed with the character of fen on the bottle-fen is short for the brand name of Fenjiu, which was written in elegant flowing strokes.

"The bottle and the character remind me that this special occasion should be observed with Chinese etiquette," Asselin said. So he took a bamboo cup to taste the baijiu.

The official added that the low alcohol content of the liquor is very friendly to first-time drinkers in the West.

"Westerners may not be accustomed to the taste of Chinese baijiu, which is made of sorghum through the techniques of fermenting and distilling," Asselin said. "But the low alcohol content makes the white liquor more acceptable."

There are other successful attempts to suit the taste of Westerners. Mixologists prepared three cocktails for attendees, a mixture with violet syrup and honey; a mixture with coconut milk and passion fruit juice, as well as a mixture with lemon and cranberry juices.

Drinkers of cocktails said they were delighted with the experience, as the drinks, unlike the pungent Chinese liquor, featured a mellow taste and lingering fragrance.

There has been a long history for Xinghuacun and Fenjiu-branded liquors sold in France.

Historical documents show that baijiu made in the Shanxi city of Fenyang, where today's Xinghuacun Fenjiu is located, began to be exported to France and other European countries during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The exported liquor was usually contained in a bottle that featured a label of the three Chinese characters of Xinghuacun and pictures themed on Chinese legends.

Some of these antique bottles are now collected by and exhibited in the British Museum in London.

Liu Jiarui contributed to this story.