Light aroma, the baijiu of choice in north China, is a bit more diverse than other categories so it’s hard to get a good sense of it from just one baijiu. Luckily, it’s also one of the cheapest, so it lends itself to experimentation. This list offers a good breadth of baijius from across the north.
Light aroma (qing xiang 清香)
Mid-range: Laobai Fenjiu 老白汾酒 by Xinghuacun 杏花村
Shanxi Province’s pride and joy is its Fenjiu, which claims to be the oldest baijiu brand on the market with a history of over 1,500 years. For reasons previously discussed, they’re probably stretching the truth a bit, but the product speaks for itself. Fenjiu is a sorghum-rice blend, twice distilled, with a mellow somewhat piney taste. It’s also widely available throughout the country.
Dirt cheap: Erguotou 二锅头: Yongfeng 永丰 or Red Star 红星 (steer clear of the Niulanshan 牛栏山)
Price: RMB5/US$0.80 and up
Erguotou is Beijing’s specialty baijiu, and there are lots of brands to choose from. None of it is particularly great, but it’s cheaper than water and far better than one would expect for something that is as cheap as Shasta.