Huge 500 year-old distillery found in China

Archaeologists in China have discovered a 500 year-old distillery that was so large it was producing spirits on an “industrial scale”.

The discovery was made by construction workers in Anhui province in eastern China who then called in the archaeologists.

The excavations have so far unveiled 3,000m2 out of an estimated 18,000m2 complex along with three distillation stoves and around 30 fermenting tanks.

Quite how much spirit the distillery would have been capable of producing won’t be entirely clearly until the site is fully excavated but based on what has been discovered so far it would appear to have been considerable.

The archaeologists currently believe the distillery dates back to the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and seem to have been used into the later stages of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which was the last of China’s imperial dynasties.

Production and consumption of rice spirits was widespread throughout ancient and early modern China as it is today. Despite this, the unearthing of ancient distilleries is quite rare.

This is just the fourth to be discovered so far, with two more having previously been identified in southwest China and one in the province of Jiangxi.

As it happens, the newly discovered distillery dates to the same period as China’s oldest distillery still in operation, the Shu Jing Fang distillery in Chengdu, which reportedly dates to 1408.

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