The Tasting Panel magazine

January 2014

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BRAND INTRODUCTION Hello, byejoe! A CHINESE CLASSIC MAKES AN ENTRÉE IN AMERICA by Rachel Burkons W hen you're looking to launch a new spirit brand, it's helpful to know that there are already one billion people who will love your product. Such is the case with byejoe, the recently-released and first-ever Western-backed baijiu that's out to prove that if its good enough for one billion Chinese, the U.S. consumer is also sure to fall for this classic spirit's charms. Produced in China for over 1,500 years, baijiu, traditionally made from sorghum, has long been the most consumed spirit in the world, but until now, the product has largely been a mysterious and unexplored territory for U.S. consumers and trade. "Baijiu is a central component in Chinese culture," explains CEO Matt Trusch, who brought the category to the United States after years of living in China. "It is the grease that keeps the engine running," he continues, explaining that the spirit is at the heart of the booming Chinese economy, as while every business transaction may begin in the boardroom, it's sealed over a bottle (or several) of baijiu. But while baijiu is embedded in the hearts of billions of Chinese, byejoe is working its way into the glasses of the American consumer. Citing the once-exotic appeal of now commonplace categories like tequila, saké and caçhaca, Trusch explains that baijiu is a logical evolution in the spirit industry. "Today's young professional consumers are sophisticated, worldly, eclectic pleasure seekers," he says, "and we wanted to give them an option for them to enjoy something authentic when they go to a Chinese or Asian Fusion restaurant." Pointing to hotspots like Hakkasan that are popping up across the U.S. and bringing an elevated take to classic Chinese cuisine, Trusch explains, "In the past, if you go to any Chinese restaurant, you're lucky to get a Chinese beer. byejoe is going to add a much needed level of authenticity to the experience these consumers are after." While byejoe is indeed authentic, it's not ancient. "Most Westerners who visit China today are blown away at how ultramodern everything is," explains Trusch. "We wanted to capture that modern spirit and translate it into something the Western consumer can relate to." As part of the brand's transition from baijiu to byejoe, the proof has been lowered from 110 to 80, and an added filtration step to smooth out the overall flavor of the 100% red sorghum spirit. The brand's sleek packaging and innovative social media campaigns also bring the brand well into the 21st century. "byejoe is a reinvention of an ancient spirit," says Trusch, "and we're doing it in a whole new way." january 2014  /  the tasting panel  /  95 TP0114_66-108.indd 95 12/19/13 9:48 PM

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