A new spirit using three-year-old baijiu as a base and eight botanicals for aromatics and flavoring is aiming to be a hit with bartenders.
白8, which translates to White 8, was created by partners RJ Steiner and James Gillespie using light aroma baijiu from Zhejiang province and botanicals from across China.
I caught up with Steiner and guest bartender Logan Browse at Beijing restaurant / bar Superfly in June to try this spirit in both straight and cocktail form.
Steiner said the project took three years from conception to launch. And that the botanicals are added to the still with the baijiu, then reheated and macerated for four hours, then redistilled. The botanical lineup includes hawthorn, dates, honey, green tea, coriander, Sichuan peppercorn, mushroom and Buddha’s hand, an aromatic and zesty citrus fruit.
The smell of this tipple evokes gin, with lots of lifted aromas, though mellow and balanced. Sichuan peppercorn easily stands out in some craft alcohols, including beers, that I’ve tried, but here it is nicely balanced, with coriander a touch more prominent.
So is it baijiu, gin or something else? I’d call it baijiu with gin characteristics.
In any case, we tried some tasty cocktails–check out the menu and photos below. And see this post for 白8’s World Baijiu Day fun with J Boroski, Dusk to Dawn and Tacolicious in Shanghai.