Moutai Liquor and traditional solar terms in Autumn
The harvest of farming is closely related to the rhythm of nature. Our intelligent ancestors conformed to the farming season and formulated a system to guide the farming activities by constantly summarizing the relationship between climate change and crop growth as well as recognizing the season patterns. This system is called “twenty-four solar terms”, which is an important part of the lunar calendar. As a product of deep agricultural processing, fine liquor made from grains is also closely related to the “solar terms”.
Moutai yeast starts around the Dragon Boat Festival. The temperature reaches the highest point that is good for yeasting. For the production of Moutai liquor, autumn is a critical time node.
“Li Qiu” is the first solar term in autumn. Usually, the weather in Li Qiu is still relatively hot as in late summer. This is the beginning of the harvest season; it is particularly crucial for farming activities.
“Chu Shu”. The weather will become more autumn-like. The unique glutinous sorghum (Hong Yingzi) the main ingredient of Moutai liquor, begins to mature. It has smaller grains, thicker skins, and higher amylopectin content. These features of “Hong Yingzi” are what make the exquisite craftmanship of Moutai liquor possible..
“Bai Lu” (also known as the “white dew”) is the next term following Chu Shu, during that time the temperature drops sharply at night, dews are generated as the old saying goes, “the moisture of water and soil condenses out as dews and the air begins to be cold. With the summer heat already dispersed from Maotai town, preparing the perfect time for production of Moutai liquor.
“Qiu Fen” is recognized as “ Autumnal Equinox”. The Chinese culture emphasized the balance of Yin & Yang. During this period, the making process of Moutai also complies with this temperature balancing. Moutai people know every well the Taoist natural rule of “maintaining the harmony between man and nature”.
“Han Lu”, the daytime becomes shorter while the night time becomes longer, Moutai town will usher in the season of sorghum processing, awaiting the new round of production of Moutai liquor.
“Shuang Jiang” is the last term in Autumn, as the temperature further drops, dews on the ground will be frosted. This marks a significance season for “sorghum processing (material feeding)’. The river become clear; the high quality of water can nourish the spirit of liquor. During this time, the temperature is suitable for grain fermentation and microbial growth. Therefore, the perfect time for liquor making.
After the open fermentation is completed, fermented grains will then be sealed and stored in cellar for “closed fermentation”. With the experience of liquor making for over thousands of years, Moutai people have generated traditional custom for making liquor at the Double Ninth Festival based on seasonal changes of the natural environment.
Source Reference: Moutai Magazine - International Edition Issue 29