Ganbei Baijiu is a startup baijiu brand here in the US – like the other new entrants they are distilling in China but bottling a western-friendly blend with marketing that appeals locally. It’s distilled in Bayan Nur in Inner Mongolia, and proofed down to an approachable 42%. (Or, at least, approachable for baijiu!) Ganbei is founded by Alec Fotsch, Andrew Hoogerwerf, and Kockyo Xiong, and they’ve already penetrated the Minneapolis market pretty well: you can find Ganbei at great bars and restaurants there, as well as liquor stores. At press time they’re running a Chinese New Year’s special across several bars in MSP, with specialty cocktails at each location.
But let’s taste already!
Ganbei is a strong aroma product, so the nose has some of the expected horsiness – but not much, and very mild for a strong aroma baijiu. Our tasting panel found a sharp tang that you experience in a sauce aroma as well, which was surprising!
The taste fits more traditionally in a strong aroma category: it’s not cloying but a kind of musky sweetness, round and fruity. It’s very smooth, with a nice clean profile that never verges on raw.
The finish does come back with a sauce-like tartness to it; a bit surprising again, but not inharmonious with the rest.
In short: it’s really interesting! Get yourself to the twin cities and try it yourself.
PS: Ganbei just got a nice profile by Sarah Brumble at MSP Citypages. It’s a good read, and the writer has this tasting note: “Imagine if a bag of Tropical Starburst were to over-ripen, then mix in a little wet hay, plus a pinch of mild flowers—except the delivery vehicle for these aromas is a high-proof spirit like aguardiente with a splash of arak. ”