The Chinese spirit, baijiu, is gaining distribution in British bars after the UK launch of HKB – a brand designed to appeal to Western tastes.
In the traditional way, HKB – or “Hong-Kong Baijui” – is made from grain, using sorghum, rice, sticky rice, corn and wheat. It is distilled in Sichuan in China in small batches and aged up to two years before blending.
The spirit, at 43% ABV, is designed to be highly mixable in modern cocktails and twists on the classics. Available in 75cl bottles through Speciality Drinks, it has been used in cocktails in London bars such as Hide, Peony at Opium, The Shrub & Shutter, Novikov, Merchant House, the Nightjar, Galvin at Windows and The Pearson Room. It is also available online via 31dover.com and The Whisky Exchange.
Despite being the world’s largest spirit category, baijiu is little known in the West. HKB was created by owner Charles Lanthier, a Frenchman who lived in China for several years, who describes it as “the world’s gateway to baijiu”. It is imported into the UK through drinks specialist Paul Bungener.
According to the brand’s owner’s tasting notes, HKB has a delicate nose with notes of red fruits, green apple, and sweet meadow grasses. On the palate, it has an attractive sweetness and subtle flavours of fruit and toffee with a long, fragrant finish.