Baijiu , also known as shaojiu, is a colourless liquor typically coming in between 35% and 60% alcohol by volume (ABV). Each type of baijiu uses a distinct type of Qū for fermentation unique to the distillery for the distinct and characteristic flavour profile.
Baijiu is a clear liquid usually distilled from fermented sorghum, although other grains may be used; some southeastern Chinese styles may employ rice or glutinous rice, while other Chinese varieties may use wheat, barley, millet, or Job’s tears in their mash bills. The qū starter culture used in the production of baijiu is usually made from pulverized wheat grain or steamed rice.
Because of its clarity, baijiu can appear similar to several other East Asian liquors, e.g. Japanese shōchū (25%) or Korean soju (20–45%), but it often has a significantly higher alcohol content (35-60%). Baijiu is comparable to whisky in terms of variation, complexity of flavour and sensation. Its flavour can vary from simple, light, and subtle to savoury-saucy rich-tasting, depending on the type.