In response to my recent post about Cantonese pig spirits, I received an wonderful comment and question from reader Samuel Curtis, who writes:
Yubingshao…it’s the quintessential Cantonese baijiu and the name is a pun in Cantonese. 玉 and 肉 are homophones in Cantonese (Yuk) but not in Mandarin (Yu and Rou respectively). Although the Cantonese are hardly drinkers compared to Northerners, and if they do they prefer brandy to high-end baijiu. This explains why chi-aroma baijiu are always in the low-end of the price spectrum.
By the way… can this thing be a niche product in the US? Many people would be curious at the “bacon alcohol.”
Although the pig taste is understated in Yubingshao, it’s definitely there. In a market as bacon-hungry as the United States, I could actually see drinkers start taking to this mild but delicious baijiu.
As an export, there is a lot to like about Yubingshao: It’s mass produced, dirt cheap and distilled in close proximity to China’s largest ports. On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if the sanitary conditions used in the pig fat infusion process would raise any red flags in my hyper-litigious homeland. One must also consider that at present Yubingshao’s market is limited to southeast China, and the transition from regional to national spirit, let alone international spirit, is often slow and painful. And all this fails to take into account that bacon-flavored spirits already exist in the US, so there would be competition.
Despite the risks, the prospect of bringing the relatively obscure Yubingshao to the States is intriguing. The bacon, the approachability of rice baijiu and the price tag are just too hard to overlook. Anyone interested?