The Chinese know a thing or two about the art of distillation. The biggest selling spirit drink in the world is baijiu – sorghum is the usual ingredient – although other grains can be used – and has been made in China since the late 11th Century.
Young Chinese are also looking westwards for their inspiration – as shown by this Chinese Hip-Hop group Higher Brothers.
So when some enterprising Chinese company decides to make whiskey – it should come as no surprise.
I present to you Goalong Liquor Special Small Batch Whiskey.
The bottle is suitably attractive in a gothic almost heavy metal style. There is also a smidgen of flowery sales patter on the front – as well as more on the entertaining website here – quite how much you wish to believe is up to you – whilst it’s in Chinese on the back.
I’d be happy for someone to translate for me.
Despite a quick internet search – I couldn’t find anything resembling a Chinese Whiskey Association – there are plenty of baijiu rules however – so I did what I normally do when presented with a bottle of whiskey. Open it – drink it – and let my palate tell me whether I enjoy it or not.
To begin with – the dark colour suggests added caramel – which is a common feature for entry level blends worldwide – but on the nose I didn’t get that sickly sweet cloying sensation.
I got a very muted caramel sweetness with a slight burnt note and a soft woody aroma – and then nothing.
There was an almost total absence of anything else – no sweet grain or earthy barley to pull you in.
The taste was exceptionally – and rather surprisingly – very soft & smooth. No rough edges here. Just an easy going delivery that again lacked any depth or flavour characteristics to give it body.
This rather ’empty’ experience finished off with a slight warming to the back of the throat as if to remind you about the 40% alcohol content – otherwise you could down a fair few of these without knowing.
It wasn’t an unpleasant experience. In fact I found teasing out what this whiskey does contain very enjoyable – but my conclusion is that it’s mainly a domestic product.
It reminded me of a New York made soju I had once. Soju is a Korean style of rice based distilled spirit similar to baijiu. I found it rather novel – if a little lacking in character.
There is a world of whiskey out there waiting to be drunk.
I certainly enjoyed my chance to taste some Chinese Whiskey.
My sample was kindly procured in China by my Asian Correspondent.