Moutai’s Unique Technique Among The World’s Fine Spirits
Each fine spirit has its unique brewing environment, raw materials, distillation method, aging period, and blending technique. Compared with Western distilled liquors, what is the uniqueness of Moutai?
Among other distilled liquors, brandy uses grape as raw materials. Moutai, however, mainly use grains as sorghum, and wheat as raw materials. The “Red Tassel” sorghum used for making Moutai is more special. It is a native variety of the Chishui River basin and features small grain, thick husk, hard and full kernel, and high content of amylopectin, which can withstand several rounds of steaming, boiling, and fermentation in Moutai’s technique. Besides, such abundant poly phenol substances as tannin contained in the “Red Tassel” sorghum are important precursors of flavour substances in Moutai.
Western distilled liquors mainly use liquid fermentation. The process is saccharification first and then fermentation, or direct fermentation without saccharification and then uses yeast for fermentation; a batch of raw materials is usually fermented only once. Chinese liquors, however, use solid-state fermentation, which is a process of simultaneous saccharification and fermentation; a batch of raw materials is fermented up to eight times for Moutai (Jiang fragrance liquor).
Most Western distilled liquors use pure fermentation in which yeast is the only microorganism. The main purpose is to convert sugar into alcohol. By contrast, Chinese liquors adopt open production. In the fermentation process, different species of microorganisms are gathered from the environment is even more special. Surrounded by mountains, with the Chishui River flowing through, the Moutai area features mild winters, hot summers, slight wind as well as moderate rainfall and forms a relatively enclosed sub-environment beneficial for the growth of liquor-making microorganisms. Moreover, the liquor brewing activities with a history of over 1,000 years have domesticated and selected special microorganisms to form unique and unduplicated microorganism environment, which is crucial to form Moutai’s unique style.
Western distilled liquors mainly use casks or stainless-steel containers for fermentation, whereas the Jiang fragrance liquor uses stone cellars. As distillation containers, other distilled liquors use continuous or intermittent pots stills whereas Chinese liquors use steaming buckets – solid-state fermented grains are used as fillers to improve the distillation efficiency. As strong containers, most of other distilled liquors use oak barrels where the barrel ingredients are integrated with the original liquor in the aging proves to endow the liquor with aroma and colour. By contrast, Moutai uses pottery structure and good breathability, which helps the liquor to mature. Meanwhile, breathability, substances in the liquors interact with each other to form the slightly yellow substances, endowing the liquor with color, which is a long process.
Through the contrast in different aspects, you may have a deeper understanding of Moutai’s uniqueness. It is the inheritance of ancient agricultural civilisation, unique natural environment, brewing wisdom accumulated for thousands of years, and the modern scientific brewing technique that accomplish this mellow and Jiang fragrant liquor of China.
Source Reference: Issue 6 of Moutai Magazine - International Edition
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