A Tale of Two Rivers

The producing region of fine spirits in the world must be a magical land with outstanding people, because only talent and wisdom can accomplish the unparalleled spirits of a place. In the producing region of fine spirits there must be a clear and picturesque river, because only the pure and sweet source full of vitality can be condensed into the most intoxicating spirits. 


In France, “Cognac” is the best spirits; in China, “Moutai” is called the perfect distilled liquor. 


Moutai and Cognac are well-known and rare spirits in the world. Both of them have an irreplaceable characteristic, because they each have magical producing region, soil, and water – France Cognac and China Moutai Town, located in the southwest of each country. Both towns use their geographical names to name their spirits. Surprisingly, both towns have a fascinating “liquor river” – Charente River and Chishui River. 

Cognac: The Finest Spirits From the Charente River

France has a river that flows through Cognac Town, that is , the Charente River. Honoured as “the loveliest river on my territory” by King Francis, Charente is Cognac’s “mother river”.


From the beginning of the 16th century, to export more wine, merchants distilled wine before storage. After the distilled wine reached the destination, they restored the original wine by adding water to it. Surprisingly, the distilled wine (spirits) has a particular taste and is more popular among people than ordinary wine, and the earliest Cognac (also called Brandy) was born.

Moutai: The Finest Liquor From the Chishui River

Moutai Town has a river as well, that is, the beautiful and winding Chishui River. It can be said that the Chishui River is the most fragrant river in China. Within the 500 kilometers area it covers, there are about 10,000 liquor distilleries including 60% of China’s well-known brands, big and small sizes. 


Moutai Town, with a very special geological and geo-morphological structure of purple gritstone, provides the excellent water source for making liquor. This type of soil contains high levels of gravel and sandy soil, and has good water permeability; therefore, when the ground water and surface water pass through the red soil layer, the beneficial minerals and trace elements are dissolved. After layers of penetration, the water becomes pure, clear, and sweet, and finally enters the Chishui River for making Moutai liquor. 


During the rainy season from the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival to the Double Ninth Festival, the river water turns red because much purple soil flows into the river. Whereas from the Double Ninth Festival to the Dragon Boat Festival the next year, the river water becomes clear because of less rainfall. 


This has provided a schedule for brewing activities over thousands of years. The wie people make liquor based on the seasonal variation of the Chishui River and transfer the natural codes to every drop of Moutai. Therefore, the Moutai making technique is a result of conforming to the natural and geographical environment of Moutai Town. 

Source Reference: Moutai Magazine - International Edition Issue 4