What is baijiu and why do you care?

30 March, 2017 by Stefanie Collins

By Stefanie Collins and Andy Young, editor TheShout

Well, for the first time since people started counting these things, baijiu now accounts for greater brand value share than any other spirit type, with the Chinese spirit overtaking whisk(e)y for the first time.

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The Facts

Name: it literally means “white spirit”

Origin: Sichuan and Guizhou provinces of China

History: there is evidence of production dating back over 1000 years

What it is: baijius are a blend of distillates from sorghum, wheat, rice, sticky rice, and corn

Tradition: after drinking your shot you should shout, “Ganbei!” which means, “Dry the glass”

Cocktails: the tropical fruit and floral notes work well with a range of flavours and baijiu cocktails are becoming more prominent in bars globally

ABV: usually sits just over 50.0%, but that’s not a hard and fast rule

 

In 2016, baijiu accounted for 23 per cent of the total brand value according to Brand Finance’s top 50 drinks, behind whisk(e)y on 37 per cent. But a sharp increase in baijiu brand value in 2016, saw its value increase to 37.5 per cent, while whisk(e)y fell to 28 per cent.

Baijius now account for four of the top 10 most valuable spirit brand according to Brand Finance, with Moutai out in front as the most valuable spirit brand. It’s joined in the top 10 by Yanghe (third), Luzhou Laojiao (sixth) and Wuiliangye (ninth), which all saw significant increases to their brand values throughout 2016. Gujing Gong Jiu was the fastest growing brand in 2016, nearly doubling its brand value to US$1.1 billion.

Brand Finance’s CEO David Haigh said: “These rates of growth support existing evidence to suggest that consumers are trading up to more premium baijius.

“The baijiu market is resurgent but some have suggested this may only be temporary and that Chinese consumers’ tastes will diversify without corresponding growth internationally to compensate. In such a situation, strong brands will be essential to maintain market share.”

Johnnie Walker remains the world’s most valuable Whiskey/Whisky brand by a considerable margin despite a 2% brand value drop this year. Its US$4.5 billion brand value keeps it in second place within the sector as a whole.

The top five most valuable spirit brands are rounded out by Jack Daniels in fourth and Hennessy in fifth.

The top 25 spirit brands:

  1. Moutai (China)
  2. Johnnie Walker (UK)
  3. Yanghe (China)
  4. Jack Daniels (USA)
  5. Hennessy (France)
  6. Luzhou Laojiao (China)
  7. Bacardi (USA)
  8. Smirnoff (UK)
  9. Wuliangye (China)
  10. Absolut (France)
  11. Ruang Khao (Thailand)
  12. Grey Goose (USA)
  13. Chivas Regal (France)
  14. Gujing Gong Jiu (China)
  15. Jameson (France)
  16. Officer’s Choice (India)
  17. McDowell’s No.1 (India)
  18. Ricard (France)
  19. Ballantine’s (France)
  20. Rémy Martin (France)
  21. Grant’s (UK)
  22. Jagermeister (Germany)
  23. Martell (France)
  24. Ciroc (UK)
  25. Imperial Blue (France)