The company Kweichow Moutai, recently unveiled its eponymous museum in Beijing, dedicated to China’s most popular fiery liquor. The company is best known for making a high-end type of baijiu, a liquor distilled from sorghum and rice with an eye-watering alcohol content averaging 53%.
Based in the southwestern province of Guizhou, Kweichow Moutai is the world’s most valuable liquor company. Its market cap passed 1 trillion yuan (US$141 billion) in 2018, a very impressive feat given that the Chinese market accounts for 95% of its sales. Moutai has a storied place in Chinese culture. It was Mao Zedong’s favorite tipple and is considered the “drink of diplomacy.” It was used to toast President Richard Nixon on his landmark trip to China in 1972. To this day, Moutai is considered the gift to give and the drink of choice to toast with on special occasions, especially big business deals.
The Moutai Museum is hosted in a traditional palace building close to the Forbidden City with five exhibition sections that are devoted to explaining the process by which China’s most famous brand of baijiu is made, its nearly two-century development, the underlying culture of baijiu, and its unlikely role in diplomacy.