Editor’s note: People say many things about baijiu, and we think it's the world’s most misunderstood spirit. But if you know the basics, you’ll find good baijius that are layered, complex and as enjoyable as whiskies, rums and tequilas. For those starting out, read our baijiu primer to learn the 4 main types of baijiu, and why the stuff is getting so popular.
Luzhou Laojiao renowned for its ancient fermentation pits, some of which have been continuously active for more than four centuries. These pits hosting a thriving microbiome that helps ferment grains to achieve the liquor's distinctive aroma and complexity.
This expression is called the National Cellar, or "Guojiao", and it is arguably the most famous core product line from Luzhou Laojiao. It is named after the claimed founding year of the distillery and is considered a prestige baijiu due to the fact that it is made from fermentation pits that have been continuously fermenting grains for over 100 years.
While the idea of consuming something from a 100-year-old pit may not sound appetising, this expression is said to be one of the most candied and fruity baijiu expressions ever made.
Let's give this a taste.
National Cellar 1573 Baijiu (国窖1573), 52% ABV – Review
Nose: Presents a fresh, floral, and surprisingly mellow aroma. Inviting and fruity sweet notes of white peaches and grilled pineapples emerge clearly and set the tone.
Palate: Bright, pure and intense. Opens up with a fantastic burst of candied sweetness alongside an almost citrusy or effervescent tanginess, reminiscent of Sprite and Sakuma Drops, especially the Lemon (translucent colour) and Pineapple (yellow) hard candies.
The flavours soften into a moderately tangy mouthfeel, gentle spices, mellow floral sweetness, complemented by a fleeting bitterness and a hint of pine resin – a sensation that might best be captured by the Mandarin flavour term 'gan' (甘). Amid the exceptionally candied notes, a very subtle cellar fragrance ("窖香" (jiào xiāng)) emerges, lending a noticeable but rather quiet contrast in the palate.
Finish: Very lasting and pleasant. The initial subtle dryness persists, moving into lightly tangy sour plums and a twist of honey in the mouth. Some liken this to good grappa and I do see some resemblance.
Emoji Rating: 🍾 Gorgeous Champagne-like vibrance.
It stands as an epitome for Rich Aroma baijiu amongst the non-limited edition expressions (there are yet rarer ones that are priced in the thousands). It isn’t very complex, but the sheer candied quality would impress any drinker and more than compensates for this.
This is an expression that you can confidently offer a new drinker, and if they wouldn't take it, you can be sure that baijiu isn't their thing.