By Jim Boyce | While grape wine gets more press than China’s national spirit baijiu, its volume is tiny in comparison. Wine production was estimated at 1 billion liters last year, a small decline, and is likely much lower.
And annual baijiu production? That’s tricky. Spirits Selection says 9 billion liters. Jiangji Distillery ups that to 13.6 billion. Other estimates range from 5.5 billion to 17 billion. I’m going with Zhao, Tang & Zhang, who call baijiu a “popular alcoholic beverage with over 10 billion liters consumed annually.”
Ten billion liters. Let’s put that into perspective. It would take an hour for that much baijiu to flow over Niagara Falls. (Estimated rate of 168,000 cubic meters per minute.)
You could fill a 160-liter bathtub for each of the 65 million citizens of the United Kingdom. (Pro tip: don’t smoke in a bathtub tub full of high-proof booze.)
If you took that year’s worth of baijiu, poured it as shots and then stacked those tiny glasses, there would be enough to reach the moon. (Based on average distance from Earth of 239,000 miles or 385,000 kilometers.)
Or, if you prefer a more sporting example, that’s enough baijiu to fill 4,000 Olympic-sized pools.
And if you weighed that ten billion liters of baijiu, without packaging, it would total ten billion kilograms. That’s the equivalent of 1,000 Eiffel Towers. (Based on the tower weighing 10 million kilograms.)
In sum, Chinese drink a lot of baijiu. And those numbers are humbling for anyone working in the wine industry.
By the way, I am also founder of World Baijiu Day, held each August 9, with events in dozens of cities around the planet. You can check out the website here and also follow the project on Twitter and Facebook.
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