Getting authentic premium baijiu is hard enough, but now that you have obtained a legitimate bottle of Wuliangye, your troubles have only just begun.
Unfortunately for consumers, China’s sophisticated pirates have driven distilleries to adopt the type of overzealous security measures normally reserved for Hannibal Lecter. To make matters worse, pirates just respond by copying the security measures in a never-ending counterfeiting arms race that just ends up putting more barriers between you and your baijiu. The object of such measures is to allow customers a certain level of false security, like knowing that your seat can be used as a floatation device when your airplane turns into a fiery metal hulk plunging toward shark-infested waters. But I digress.
Many high-end baijiu brands employ this type of Fort Knox security, so any baijiu drinker ought to know how to liberate one’s baijiu. Below is a step-by-step illustrated guide to opening a bottle of Wuliangye, baijiu’s most notoriously difficult packager.
STEP 1: Remove from sheath
Bottles of Wuliangye will come in a red cloth drawstring bag. This step is as simple as loosening the cord and pulling out the plastic box. You might even consider doing this at the time of purchase and leaving the bag at home. But if you do that, you’re fucked beyond hope of redemption, because…
STEP 2: Reserve the key
Attached to the drawstring is a little piece of plastic you probably didn’t even notice. This is the key. Without this inconspicuous device, you’re going to need a blowtorch, the Jaws of Life and Seal Team 6 if you ever want to drink that baijiu.
On a related note, many bottles also require a metal key to open. They look like this:
These metal keys are used to physically destroy a ceramic bottle’s seal, so that counterfeiters cannot recycle the bottle. A couple months ago, I tried to open a bottle without one and sliced my fingers so bad I almost had to leave my own baijiu tasting to get stitches. Learn from my mistake.
STEP 3: Unlock the box
Insert the key in the slot at the top of Fortress Wuliangye and push down to pop the lid.
There is also a seal atop the box, which looks like this:
Ignore it. It will break when you open the lid and is just there to make you feel better about spending a hundred dollars on something that cost five to produce.
STEP 4: Remove the disk
This is there to keep the bottle centered inside the box. It presents a minor obstacle, pull up to remove.
STEP 5: Remove cap membrane
There’s another layer of plastic around the actual bottle cap, because of course there is. Tear and remove.
STEP 6: Open the bottle
Twist the cap and pour yourself a drink. You’ve earned it.
It’s almost too easy, like defusing your first bomb. Having opened Wuliangye before and knowing exactly what I was doing, this whole process took me about exactly fifty seconds. Until further notice, that’s the time to beat.