Maotai or Moutai is a style of baijiu, a distilled Chinese liquor (spirit), made in the town of Maotai in China’s Guizhou province. Produced by the state-owned Kweichow Moutai Company, the beverage is distilled from fermented sorghum and now comes in several different varieties.
Maotai originated during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912), when northern Chinese distillers introduced advanced techniques to local processes to create a distinctive type of baijiu. Thereafter Maotai was produced at several local distilleries. During the Chinese Civil War, People’s Liberation Army forces camped at Maotai and partook of the local liquor. Following the Communist victory in the war, the government consolidated the local distilleries into one state-owned company, Kweichow Moutai (the name is an old romanization of “Guizhou Maotai”). It became a popular drink at state functions and one of the country’s most popular spirits.
Due to its restricted regionality, and inability to be replicated anywhere else, Moutai is a limited and highly sought after resource. The Chinese government protects the Moutai region by ensuring no chemical factories can be set up near the ‘Fine Wine River’ which runs through the town.
On first taste, it is reminiscent of a very rough vodka, followed by soy sauce notes. It has a lot of structure in the mid palate but a sharp short finish.