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Erguotou Liquor Factory Tour
Ana Costa Rica I'm living in China 2012.11.16 17:12
Good way to spend your Sunday morning... the tour was interesting and different.. I would recommend people to take this tour
Florrie France I'm living in China 2012.11.13 00:49
At long last I had a chance to join the CCC tour to that famed factory, celebrating its 60th birthday of bringing cheap alcohol for the masses -and the VIPs too!- in Niulanshan (Buffalo Fence Mountain).
The place has the feel of the state-run factories of the 1950-70s, where workers lived with their families and had a sort of small "factory town" with their own facilities such as clinic and school.
If the mountain seems to have been leveled, the ornate gate to the restricted sprawling complex reminds of the past fence. Some talented workers painted a scroll in ancient style, showing how the first distillery or "shaoguo" must have appeared some 300 years back when the process was refined, in the late Ming dynasty. The Buffalo has become the logo of the brand, and it is featured on the bottles and their caps + greeting visitors in the form of a large gilt statue at the gates.
We got to see some production and museum parts, together with the bottling plant, on the side of which truckdrivers where dozing at their steering wheel, while workers jokingly heaped crates of various types of the famous fire-water onto the platform in the back.
The company guide told us they worked 7 days a week from 8am to 16:30 pm in peak periods such as this one. Still, none of the workers looked discontent despite their monotonous tasks. Indeed, most EGT is sold in the winter and at events, and working overtime, but not to exhaustion, means for them good wages. The production of this factory is indeed impressive at over "50,000 tons of Chinese spirits including 110 products in four categories"in 2007.
It was interesting to see and hear about the various grains and berries that come into some of these "second distillation" clear liquors. The basis is a special type of red sorghum with a very strong smell, when it's boiled and fermented. When the sorghum has yielded all its alcohol (some of the brews get up to 80 percent proof), the remaining grain is dried and swept away outside to trucks that collect it for cattle forage.
Most interesting was the various bottles used, some of them very elegant specially designed porcelain jugs. A recent exclusive series features the zodiac animals. This brand new series has now 4 large sculpted vessels : Ox,Tiger, Rabbit and Dragon, each containing 20+ year old liquor (EGT like whisky, is supposed to improve with age). They go for sky high prices, starting from 8888 rmb for the most recent Dragon vessel. The guide was not aware of the exact number of those collector's items, but some are still available at the store.
More mundanely, our group hovered among the more inexpensive items such as the glass with EGT + 3 goji (wolfberries) - providing for the daily intake of "moderate" drinking Chinese-style + the vitamins and CTM properties of goji berries, which we are warned never to eat in big quantity like raisins : a daily intake of 3 berries being the maximum.
We also were invited by our CCC guides to have a few snacks and sample some EGT varieties including the newer Beijing-Chun (38 percent alcohol by volume) which we foreigners -and some of our Chinese fellow visitors- all agreed to be very palatable and a bit reminding of Maotai.
All in all, as usual with CCC, it was a well designed and enjoyable tour, thanks to lead guide Melissa with junior Summer (+exceptionally, Jason as guest guide). We enjoy the family-like atmosphere and care that CCC provides on these tours.

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