Ming River is a new brand – but if you are tangentially aware of baijiu you’ve seen it everywhere in the US. Their team has done a great job with PR and education. They’re hustling it into great bars around the country, and they’re apparently behind most of the ‘Is Baijiu the Next Big Thing’ articles you’re seeing in the press. The brand is backed by Luzhou Laojiao – a leader in Strong Aroma baijiu, and a ~15billion dollar company in its own right. Author Derek Sandhaus is one of the founders, and his book tour doubles as a Ming River roadshow. The bottle and branding is great; accessible to a western market but clearly all about its roots as a product of China.
All that to say: Ming River is a powerhouse approaching the US baijiu market, and there’s a lot of sizzle here. But is the baijiu actually any good?
Reader: it’s frigging delicious.
It’s a strong aroma baijiu – which means it’s still an aggressive flavor profile, and you can’t miss the horsiness. But it’s balanced and approachable, with a candied pineapple sweetness. It’s got a great contour for tasting on its own, but it really shines in mixed drinks. You can see immediately why Ming River has been pushing a stable of tiki cocktail recipes. Its fruitiness goes really well with tropical ingredients.
One delightful note from one of our tasters that we can’t help but include: strawberry jell-o powder. It’s there, and it’s great.