Look, I’ve got a bunch of weird niche interests, and I don’t make a secret about it. But this one has been (kind of?) under the radar for a while, but I’ve been increasingly fascinated by baijiu, the Chinese spirit. Baijiu is really a huge category of liquor, distilled in a range of ways, and it has an alarmingly steep learning curve. The cheap-and-available baijius are hard to distinguish from rotten grain alcohol, and the best baijius have a lot of crazy flavor notes that might be described as… challenging.
Despite being pretty unknown in the US, it’s a hugely popular drink category, and apparently is the biggest category by volume in the world (beating out whisky and vodka combined!). But it’s still hard to find - half of the bottles I’ve tasted have been gifts from friends traveling back and forth to China (谢谢 Dr. Han!).
There are a couple of great now-defunct blogs where western expats reviewed their experiences with baijiu in China, but these have the downside of being China-centric: most of what they discuss isn’t available in the states. There are also a couple of liquor distributors who are making solid efforts to promote a their baijiu brands to mass markets. But still, most of the baijiu that’s available is found only in Chinese markets, and there’s very little press promoting them.
SO! I did what I do, and made a website. At BaijiuReview.com, you can rate and review baijiu (right now you’ll need to sign up before leaving a review), find places to buy baijiu in the US, and (my favorite) a growing slew of cocktail recipes.