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Bambooze – Chinese Liquor Matured in Living Bamboo Trunks

Bamboo was already one of the most versatile resources available to man, but villages in various parts of China have come up with yet another use for the giant grass – living casks for maturing liquor.

Villagers and liquor producers in several Chinese provinces have come up with a way of using living bamboo trunks to produce alcoholic drinks that are proving very popular with tourists. By using high-pressure injection techniques, they fill up sections of living bamboo trunks with rice wine or sorghum and leave it to mature for several months, up to a year and a half, during which time the liquor is infused with flavone (the liquid naturally released by the trunk) and the sap of bamboo. This apparently gives the liquor a pure, pleasant aroma and detoxifying properties. It also lowers alcohol content, as the plant absorbs part of it.

Photo: kazuend/Unsplash

But it’s not just the liquor itself that has got people interested, but the way it is retrieved from the plant after maturing. Customers are often invited to see workers knocking on various sections of bamboo trunks to check if they contain the valuable concoction, and then drilling a small hole to allow it to pour out into a glass container. It is ready to drink on the spot, but if someone wishes to gift the liquor and make an impression, they can opt to have a section of the bamboo cut out as a bottle.

 

This liquor maturation technique was originally developed in Fujian province, but has since been adopted by villagers and spirit producers from other parts of China, like Guangxi and Sichuan. Production is still fairly limited to a few tens of thousands of liters per year, but as demand keeps growing, businesses are increasing production.

 

As competition increases, producers are looking for more efficient and less invasive ways of injection techniques to maximize productivity, but there are a few things they always have to keep in mind. The alcohol content and liquor quantity is very important, as too much or too hard a liquid can kill the plant, whereas a weak alcoholic drink tends to go bad over long periods of time. So far, rice wine and sorghum have worked the best.

 

Bamboo infused liquor sells for about 500 yuan ($72) per bamboo stick, but many are willing to pay a premium price both for the novelty and the alleged health benefits of the “bambooze”.

 

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