As part of Cheng International’s #AtHome Instagram series, their range of Baijiu spirits have been showcased by The Wine Tipster and other expert guests including Enrico Gonazato, Andrea Dionori and QiQi Chen, highlighting how to enjoy the spirits both traditionally and in modern ways. Here, The Wine Tipster discusses four Fenjius that have become contemporary luxury lifestyle spirits with a rich history and cultural background which are available to buy in the UK from Harrods and Selfridges, although are sometimes, incorrectly, referred to as ‘Fen Chiew.’
Over 90% of Baijiu is drunk in China, making this an exciting new addition to the European drinks market. Baijiu is an established and ancient drink, with an undeniable popularity which has only increased as the versatile spirit has been experienced in new ways. Traditionally enjoyed neat, Baijiu’s ancient fermenting and distilling processes of the sorghum grain give the three Baijiu styles their distinctive aromas: light aroma, sauce aroma and strong aroma. In recent years, Baijiu has increasingly been used as a focal spirit in cocktails and long drinks, proving itself to be a hugely accessible spirit and one that can be savoured in a wide range of ways.
Fenjiu is the oldest Chinese Baijiu in existence. This light aroma Baijiu has been produced in the same ancient and handmade way in Fenyang City in the Shangxi province of North East China for over 6000 years. The intense labour and time required to make the spirit, along with Fenjiu’s advanced quality testing and control systems, result in the product’s unique and outstanding quality and taste. The nose and palate of each Fenjiu offers a wonderful spectrum of aromas and flavours and, just like premium wine, single malt whisky, Vintage Port or the finest cognacs, Fenjiu offers a fascinating and exceptional multi-layered tasting experience.
Fenjiu’s delicate and light aroma starts from its ingredients of the finest organic sorghum and karst water from 840 metres underground from the virgin forest. Fenjiu is also set apart from the sauce aroma and strong aroma Baijius through its traditional double fermentation and distillation process that uses earthen cylinders. The burying of these cylinders underground, covered with stone slabs and sealed with fresh grain for 28 days provides the optimal environment for fermentation and produces the highest level of fragrance, purity and quality. The distillation of the fermented grain is achieved by the manual addition of cornhusk before distilled grains go into second fermentation. The distilled alcohol is then stored in ceramic jars to mature for 1-50 years, a key step in the developing of flavour.
The Cheng International #AtHomeWithFenjiu Instagram events have been hugely popular, and The Wine Tipster has introduced audiences to the versatility of this luxury spirit. Having taken Instagram Live viewers through the history, heritage and tasting notes of four different Fenjius, here, The Wine Tipster also shares his advice for enjoying the spirits alone or as cocktails.
Fenjiu 30 year old 53% provides an incredible drinking experience when neat, with an intense and concentrated palate of multiple fruit and savoury flavours complementing its umami undercurrent and smokey top note. In terms of food matching, the possibilities are immense due to the combination of flavours here. For The Wine Tipster, rich savoury dishes cooked with a fragrant spice or rich fruit element – such as slow-cooked pork in sweet ginger or duck in plum sauce – would complement the spirit well. Alternatively, a rich fruit cake would bring out the candied peel, cherry and cinnamon elements of the Fenjiu 30 year old 53%.
Fenjiu Bamboo 10 year old 38% makes a great base for a contemporary cocktail. The infusion of bamboo leaf, honey and herbs in the spirit give it its clear and bright appearance, as well as its sweet and elegant palate of citrus, vanilla and floral tones. The Wine Tipster’s Fenjiu Honey Tang Cocktail brings out all of these amazing characters:
Garnish with a slice of lemon and enjoy your perfectly light and refreshing summer cocktail.
Fenjiu Bamboo 10 year old 48% is a pure expression, with no infusions, giving it softly sweet and spicy notes, and alluring savoury and herbal notes. This balanced and complex Fenjiu brings immense depth to the short and zesty cocktail, the Fenjiu Orange Charmer:
In a cocktail shaker, combine
Serve in a martini glass, garnishing the glass with a slice of fresh orange before enjoying.
The Wine Tipster’s final Fenjiu cocktail uses Fenjiu Panama 20 year old 42% with its amazingly velvety coffee and mocha aromas and flavours. On the palate, this Fenjiu is rich and spicy, with a tangy and complex dark chocolate and cigar elegance that makes it a perfect serve on its own or in a cocktail. The Wine Tipster’s take on a classic Espresso Martini utilises this sublime spirit for his very own Espresso Fenjini:
In a cocktail shaker, combine
Serve in a coupette glass garnished with coffee beans. What a perfect finale to any evening!
The versatility and dexterity of all four Fenjius highlight what a great addition they make to a drinks collection. As a first foray into Baijiu, Fenjiu makes for an accessible and highly sophisticated experience.
The Wine Tipster
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