FAQ

What is baijiu?

Baijiu means “white spirits” in Chinese. Simply put, baijiu is an umbrella term for all traditional Chinese spirits. Baijiu is by far the most produced and consumed spirit in the world, selling more each year than whiskey and vodka combined!


How do you say it?

Bye like in “goodbye,” Gio like in “Giovanni.”


What is qu?

Qu (pronounced “chew”) is the fermentative agent used in the production of all baijius. It is essentially a grain-based culture of microorganisms that convert a grain’s starches into alcohol.


Is it made from rice?

Baijiu can be made from any grain. Sometimes baijiu is made from rice, but sorghum is the most common grain used in China, and the one we use in Ming River.


What is sorghum?

Sorghum is a cereal grain. In the U.S., it’s primarily used as animal feed and in the production of molasses, but it’s a staple crop in Africa and Asia.


Where does Ming River originate?

Ming River comes from Luzhou Laojiao in southwestern China’s Sichuan province. It is China’s oldest distillery, in continuous use since 1573.


Why is it called Ming River?

The name refers to the Ming Dynasty, when the distillery was founded, and the fact that it comes from a town alongside China’s famous Yangtze River.


Why is this the most consumed spirit in the world?

China is the world’s most populous country, and it consumes about 8 billion liters of baijiu every year. In China baijiu is an important part of life, used in holidays, weddings, memorial services, business and politics. It’s a major part of dining out and entertaining, and is always paired with food, like wine is in the West. Also, it’s delicious.


Where does Ming River originate?

Ming River comes from Luzhou Laojiao in southwestern China’s Sichuan province. It is China’s oldest distillery, in continuous use since 1573.


Does it taste like sake?

Some styles of baijiu do, but not most. Ming River is closest to high-ester cane spirits, like Jamaican rum, in terms of flavor and aroma.


What would I compare it to?

In the spirits world, it’s closest to Jamaican rum, but you’ve probably never tasted anything like this before. It’s fruity, floral and funky, with notes of pineapple, anise and cheese.


How do people drink it?

Traditionally, baijiu is drunk neat in 10ml glasses with food. They shoot it neat, at room temperature and in great volumes. Recently, it’s been quite successful as a cocktail ingredient.


How is it made?

Ming River is made in five steps: Sorghum grains are steamed, fermented with wild yeast and buried in earthen pits to ferment for about 2 to 3 months. This mash is distilled as a solid with steam. The baijiu is aged for several years in terra-cotta jars and blended to perfection before bottling.


What is the distilling process?

The grains are distilled whole in a traditional Chinese still, which is like a giant dim sum basket(or vegetable steamer). Steam rises up through the bottom and vaporizes the alcohol in the solid fermented grain, which re-condenses and re-evaporate through the different layers of grain. It is then funneled into a condenser where it cools into baijiu. From a mash of around 3% alcohol by weight emerges a distillate that is often over 120-proof.


If baijiu is the most consumed category of spirit in the world, and Ming River comes from one of the biggest producers in China, how can you claim that this is an artisanal product?

Even though baijiu is produced in mind-blowingly large volumes, every drop in a bottle of Ming River is pit-fermented, batch-distilled and aged in terracotta. The production is all done using traditional small batch methods, just on a very large scale. Unlike many baijiu brands, Ming River contains no neutral grain spirit in its blend.


If baijiu is so popular, why isn’t it better known in the West?

In the US, Chinese food got popular during prohibition, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity for baijiu to be introduced in its traditional setting. Moreover, baijiu wasn’t exported to the United States to China until the 1980s, and has only been marketed to non-Chinese in the past 10 years. It’s a very old drink, but very new to most of the world, and quickly gaining in popularity.


I heard baijiu is firewater. Why should I drink it?

Baijiu is like any category of spirits—there are good ones and bad ones—and it’s a very diverse category. There are about 10,000 baijiu distilleries and 12 different styles of baijiu that can be as different as tequila and rum. So whether or not you think it’s hard to drink will depend on the quality and style of the baijiu, but in our experience most people have no trouble finding a baijiu they like when they try the four major styles, and more often than not it’s strong-aroma Sichuan baijiu.


What do I mix with it? What’s the best way to work with Ming River?

Ming River pairs well with citrus and tonic water, and also with other strong-flavored spirits like overproof rum, amaro and mezcal.


Is your product Gluten-Free?

Mostly yes. Our mash is 100% sorghum, a gluten-free grain. Trace amounts of wheat are used in the fermentation process, but so little that other baijius made in a similar style have been certified gluten free.


Is your product Kosher?

No.


Ingredients – Does the product contain sugar/How much?

100% sorghum grain mash. Residual Sugars:Under 5%, and no sugar or flavoring is added during the production process.


Where can I purchase your product locally?

You can search for Ming River here: Retailers


Do you sell merchandise?

You can view Ming River merchandise here: Merch Shop


What states do you have distribution in?

CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, KS, MA, MD, MI, MO, NJ, NV, NY, OR, PA, SC, TX and WA.


Are you looking to contact the brand directly?

You can contact the Ming River brand team here: Contact


Do I need to create an account to place an order?

Yes, you must create an account to place an order. Creating an account will allow you to manage your billing/shipping information as well as access your order status and history. You can create an account by clicking here and completing the Register information. Once complete, click ‘Register’ to create your account.

You can also create an account during the checkout process.

Once you have created your account, you can login for future visits. You will need to use the email address associated with your account to login.


How do I change my password?

1. Go to account login which can be found on the top right of the navigation bar, or by simply clicking here.

2. Under the Login section, click the link “Lost your password?”.

3. Enter the email address or username you used to set up your account on Cask and Barrel Club.

4. Once you click the ‘Reset Password’ button, you will receive an email which contains a link that will direct you to reset your password on our website. In the email, click the link ‘Click here to reset your password’. This will take you to the password reset page on our site. Please enter a new password of your choice and confirm the password by reentering it. Click the ‘Save’ button to complete this action.


Can I send a bottle abroad?

The Cask and Barrel Club does not arrange for the delivery of orders overseas.


Can I cancel my order?

No, orders cannot be canceled. All sales are final. If you have concerns about your order, please contact [email protected].