Flashback: First WSET baijiu ‘master class’ 8 years ago this week

Call it a spirited affair: The first ‘master class’ for baijiu, China’s national drink, was held at the WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) headquarters in London eight years ago this week.

I had been in contact with Ian Harris, then CEO of WSET, and Lydia Harrison, then tastings manager and now head of education, about doing such a gathering.

The person making it possible was Paul Mathew, who was in London, where he was co-owner of a trio of bars–The Hide Bar, The Arbitrager and Demon, Wise & Partners–and who had recently lived in Beijing, where he consulted for the alcohol industry, including on baijiu cocktails for Diageo.

Mathew sourced spirits and led the class, presenting baijiu from six producers: light-aroma Hongxing, strong-aroma Luzhou Laojiao, Shuijingfang, Wenjun and Wuliangye, and sauce-aroma Maotai. He then finished the class by putting his mixology skills to use and making some baijiu cocktails at The Hide Bar, in the same building as WSET.

Read more about the class at this link at the site for World Baijiu Day, a sibling project of Grape Wall of China. The 9th annual World Baijiu Day is set for August 9. Events in 70 cities-plus worldwide have been held since 2015.

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