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Chinese drink Baijiu enters India



BENGALURU: After premium drinks such as Japanese and Taiwanese whiskies and South Korean soju, China’s national drink, Baijiu, is entering India.

Baijiu is the most consumed liquor in the world Baijiu, produced from sorghum – a type of grain – has a long history and a unique distilling technique which has been passed down through generations for about 800 years. It is taken as a shot along with food, but using a smaller amount due to the high alcohol content. It has 50-65% alcohol by volume (ABV). In comparison, the ABV in vodka is about 40%.

The pungent, distinctive, and clear-as-mineral water liquid is being introduced in India by a Chinese spirits company, Chongqing Jiangxiaobai Liquor and VBev, an Indian importer of premium wines, whiskies and beer. Chongqing Jiangxiaobai Liquor is one among many Chinese companies that have their own versions of Baijiu.

About 10 billion litres of Baijiu was consumed in China last year, said drinks research firm IWSR, which is equivalent to filling up 4,000 olympic-size swimming pools.

Oriental drinks have been slowly gaining acceptance in India over the last few years. Rising disposable income and increasing exposure to the rest of the world is encouraging Indians to experiment, and go beyond the traditional whiskey, strong beer and rum. South Korea’s Jinro, famous for its distilled spirit soju, entered India through a bottling and distribution deal with alcobev firm Advent Brand House a few years ago.

“We are not a huge brand in China, being just eight years old, but are a hit among the youth who are looking for something different and fresh. Baijiu can be a good addition in this country,” said Zoe Fu, director of international business segment at Chongqing. Chongqing’s Baijiu has ABV at about 40% in China, an effort to attract the youth.

Baijiu is usually available in four flavours – rice, light, strong, and sauce. VBev is bringing the light flavour, with ABV of 40%, which it feels will attract the young.

“We tried this product with bartenders across cities and realised that this product is more suited for cocktail making,” said CEO Sumedh Singh Mandla, adding that the drink will be rolled out in HoReCa (hotels, restaurants and cafes) and upscale outlets in Bengaluru, before launching in New Delhi and Mumbai.

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