Thursday, April 22, 2021

Sazerac Sends Fireball to China and Experiments with Baijiu at Home. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

A Baijiu sampler.

So this was in the inbox: "Budweiser China today announced a strategic partnership with The Sazerac Company to bring Fireball Whisky to China."

Also this: "Sazerac's Buffalo Trace Distillery announces the limited release of a Baijiu-style spirit." 

An international incident is imminent.

Fireball is a very successful product, marketed as 'whiskey' with the barest possible legal justification. For most drinkers of actual whiskey it is the punchline to a joke, much as Budweiser is ridiculed by many beer drinkers.

The disrupter.

In China, however, Budweiser is a premium product and leads the premium segment of the Chinese beer market. Budweiser China, which also sells Stella Artois, Corona, Hoegaarden, Cass, Harbin and other brands there, is the most profitable brewer in Asia. In addition to China, the company distributes to South Korea, India, Vietnam and other Asia Pacific regions.

China also is the world's principal baijiu producer. Although little known outside China, that vast market alone makes it the best-selling type of distilled spirit in the world. It accounts for about 31 percent of spirits volume globally, according to the International Wine and Spirits Record (IWSR, 9L volume, calendar year 2019). 

The Buffalo Trace Experimental Collection Baijiu-style spirit is distilled like whiskey but uses traditional Baijiu ingredients of sorghum and peas. After aging the distillate for 11 years in three separate casks--uncharred, charred and toasted white oak--the spirits were married together and bottled at 90 proof. 

In addition to Fireball, Budweiser China will act as the exclusive distributor for other premium alcoholic offerings from Sazerac such as Goldschlager, Southern Comfort, Seignette, Buffalo Trace and Seagram's V.O. in the Chinese mainland.

Baijiu is the 24th experimental release from Sazerac's Buffalo Trace Distillery. The first was in 2006. The Experimental Collection includes thousands of different recipes and barrel treatments which examine a variety of unique variables from changes in the mash bill, types of wood, barrel toasts and more.

Experimental Collection Baijiu Style can be found in select markets. Quantities are extremely limited. Suggested retail pricing is $46.99 per 375ml bottle. 

America's whiskey makers have longed for more opportunities to penetrate the Chinese market. Much of the industry's recent investment in increased production capacity is premised on steady, strong export growth, for which China is the principal target. 

It is not known if Buffalo Trace is experimenting with cinnamon-flavored Baijiu.

2 comments: said...


Apart from the raw materials, there is nothing baijiu in it. Baijiu is solid-fermented and solid-distilled, not using a mash, and it is aged in clay, not in wood. I'm absolutely sure it will taste completely different from baijiu. So they probably just want to take the name for marketing purposes.

Crown Point Marc said...

Some would say the same about Budweiser; it's delibeer in name only.🤣🤣