The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2015

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Page 124 of 136

124  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2015 A nyone who has ever traveled abroad knows that at least a couple of hidden gems exist within the borders of every country. These treasures make you wonder why you can't get them back in the U.S.—you consider moving there just for that special dish or remarkable treat. For those who journey to China, they will most likely encounter baijiu—the most consumed spirit in the entire world and one that has only recently began to make headway in the States. "I think we are still in somewhat uncharted territory with this distillate," notes Francesco Lafranconi, Director of Mixology & Education for Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada, "and there will be some great flavors combinations, where talented mixologists will be able to please even the most discerning and sophisticated palate." Baijiu Basics Baijiu is clear and typically made from sorghum. This spirit is usually categorized by their aroma. Most baijius made in the Sichuan province are classified as strong aroma. This type's life begins in fermentation pits dug into the ground; exposed to both native yeast and the open air, yeast develop on a brick of grains, called the qu. Adding steamed grains to the qu, sugar conversion and fermentation happens in one step, unlike most other distilled spirits. The end result of this process comes out as a "yellow wine" or huangjiu, which is distilled and then aged for at least a year in terra cotta urns placed in underground cellars or dark rooms. Baijiu The People's Republic of SHUI JING FANG FINDS ITS HOME IN THE U.S. MIXOLOGY SCENE by Emily Coleman

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