Liquor legacy: China’s 1,300-year-old Yanghe Distillery eyes wider international markets with ‘mellow’ baijiu portfolio

By Pearly Neo

- Last updated on GMT

Yanghe Distillery is looking to establish itself more firmly in international markets, banking on the expansion of its baijiu portfolio with mid-to-premium ranges as well as its trademark ‘mellow’ flavour. ©Yanghe
Yanghe Distillery is looking to establish itself more firmly in international markets, banking on the expansion of its baijiu portfolio with mid-to-premium ranges as well as its trademark ‘mellow’ flavour. ©Yanghe

Related tags China baijiu Alcohol

China liquor heavyweight Yanghe Distillery is looking to establish itself more firmly in international markets, banking on the expansion of its baijiu portfolio with mid-to-premium ranges as well as its trademark ‘mellow’ flavour.

Yanghe Distillery owns the Yanghe and Shuanggou baijiu brands, which both have over 1,300 years of history dating back to the Ming Dynasty. It is well-established in the country as one of the largest local baijiu companies.

Baijiu as an alcohol category is famed for its high alcohol level by volume (ABV) and often its strong flavour – but Yanghe has made a name for itself with its trademark ‘mellow’ flavour, described as ‘smoother, softer and more pleasing’ compared to the intensity of regular baijiu.

“Yanghe is able to guarantee this mellow flavour in our products due to the natural conditions of our distillery,”​ Yanghe International Business Department Lead Veronica Wang told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“Our water source is at a unique location where the waters of the Huaihe River, the Yellow River, the Grand Canal, the Hongze Lake, and the Luoma Wetlands meet, which has a naturally sweet quality.

“The surrounding soil also contains a wide variety of microorganisms which enters the water and catalyses the production of our alcohol, resulting in a full-bodied and fragrant product with the distinctive mellow taste and crisp flavour.”

The firm also uses a ‘base liquor’ stored in its underground cellars to make its baijiu, which is said to date back to centuries ago and utilises traditional craft-distillation techniques for flavour and production control.

“We now have product ranges to target both premium and mid-range markets – for the more high-end consumer is the Dream Blue range with emphasis on the packaging and aftertaste targeting premium palates,”​ she said.

“Whereas for the mid-range consumer we have the Yanghe Spirit Classic products Sky Blue and Ocean Blue, where the former is aged for over six years and the latter is aged for three years – this range is our current best-seller in China and we hold the market-leading position over other baijiu sold at the same price range.

“Under the Shuanggou brand, we also have a Sujiu range that is more focused on sustainability and eco-friendliness in line with current trends dubbed Mellow Sujiu, which is the first green, healthier and environment-friendly organic Baijiu in the liquor industry, for which we have already received the necessary organic certification.

“The term ‘healthier’ has been included because the complete functional microorganism ecosystem that enriches our ancient cellar pool from where we store the raw ingredients to make this product convey molecules and healthy functional substances, giving this an edge over other baijiu.”

A baijiu for everyone

Wang stressed that with these baijiu ranges and others utilising the distillery’s signature mellow flavour, there is huge market potential to be discovered outside of China no matter the main alcohol consuming demographic in the market.

“We have a strong position in China, but markets such as Thailand, Singapore, South East Asia and India are very interesting to us strategically as well due to the potential in terms of population strength and consumer interest,”​ she added.

“There has always been this perception in many markets that baijiu is either too strong or too expensive for the regular consumer to consider as a drink choice, and we want to dispel this misconception with our product ranges.

“There is now a baijiu suitable for every consumer no matter their budget, and even one to suit their ideologies in terms of sustainability, so with these products we are hopeful to being China’s baijiu to even wider markets moving forward.

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