Several months ago I began corresponding with David Zhou of Potomac Falls, Virginia about a new North American baijiu he was producing called Confucius Wisdom. Not wanting to compromise myself (but obviously curious), I told him that I would try his baijiu and mention it on this site, but I wouldn’t mince words if I didn’t enjoy it. David said he stood by his product, and sent me a bottle. I am pleased to say that, having tried it, I also stand by it.
Confucius (Master Kong, Kongzi, the Sage) was the antithesis of today’s binge-drinking ganbei fiend. The typical Confucian view on drinking has been one of moderation and formality. It’s not that one shouldn’t drink, but that one should only drink when fulfilling a ceremonial or social obligation, and even then one should not drink too much.
So why name a baijiu after Confucius?
Though Confucius Wisdom is an American brand, sold exclusively in North America, it is actually produced in Qufu, the ancestral home of the Kong family. According to Zhou, the product is brewed by direct descendents of Confucius using a long-held family recipe.
Confucius Wisdom is a strong-aroma baijiu, watered down to 39% alcohol by volume. It’s smooth and flavorful, but it lacks the fiery kickback that scares away so many foreign drinkers. What’s nice about this product – and what makes it a worthy entrant into the North American market – is that it’s strong enough that you can get a good feel for the baijiu flavor profile, but light enough to not overpower those flavors.
As I’ve noted, lower levels of alcohol may be the key to baijiu’s future international success. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it lets you off easy, or that it must be sipped in dull Confucian moderation. After a night of slamming Confucius sauce (and a particularly odious fifty-two percent Luzhou Laojiao Nine Year), I could hardly bureaucra-see straight.
This is a good starter baijiu for curious readers living in the East Coast of the United States. And at around US$30 for a 750ml bottle, it’s good value. Right now Confucius Wisdom is only available in the Washington, D.C. area – the home of American Bureaucracy – but I’m told that if the early response is good, Zhou will expand his operations and bring more production stateside. That’s the kind of job creator we need in Washington.