Horsiness: 5 horses (out of 5)
Burn: 5 flames (out of 5)
Bought at: ??? (but can be found at Marks Wine and Spirits, Chinatown, NYC)
Now we get to the good stuff. Wuliangye is a very expensive baijiu–the bottle I saw (but didn’t buy) at Marks cost something like $125, and it’s famous for being a premium, expensive brand in China. As I understand it, that’s because it’s generally bought not to drink, but to give as a gift, especially among Chinese Communist Party officials, so it’s as much a status symbol as it is a liquor.
This was also the very first baijiu I tasted, before I ever heard the word “baijiu”. (Which is rather like having Laphroaig as your first taste of whiskey, or Demons’ Souls as your first video game. Definitely diving in at the deep end here.) My parents were given a bottle by a Chinese student. They tried it, hated it, and passed it on to me. I tasted it, was intrigued by it, and pretty much forgot about it until I started up this baijiu project.
Anyway, on to the tasting notes.
The smell, as you’ll guess from the rating above, is very strong and very horsey, but there’s also a sourness that I’m struggling to describe–a bit like kumquat, maybe.
The taste is very deep and layered. When it hits my tongue, it feels like it nearly instantly volatilizes, so there two different tastes within each sip. The first, momentary taste is fiery and sweet. The second, lingering taste is earthy, with hints of apple (or maybe chocolate?), although the fire does linger as well.
The burn lingers in my mouth long after the other flavors are gone–it gets a 5 flames rating for a reason.
I love this stuff. If it didn’t cost so much, I’d have it as a regular part of my collection. But people who don’t like baijiu are really, really, really going to hate it.