Essex farmer launches Britain’s first homegrown baijiu

Essex farmer Pete Thompson is due to launch the first British-made baijiu made with homegrown sorghum in the UK on 25 January to coincide with Chinese New Year.

Made from British grown sorghum grains – an ancient Ethiopian grain that is now grown across Africa and Asia – Thompson’s Baijiu was created in collaboration with the English Spirit Distillery.

Thompson’s family have been growing vegetables for the UK Chinese community on their Essex farm for three generations, in addition to apricots, apples and pears.

The English Spirit Distillery have mimicked the traditional fermentation process in lab conditions using enzymes in order to produce the desired aroma and ABV.

“We’ve created Thompson’s Baijiu to honour Chinese tradition and British science and distilling expertise.

“We marry innovation in growing crops for flavour and desire to create a holistic farming system, with the experience and wisdom of our partners the English Spirit Distillery to create exceptionally delicious spirits,” Thompson said.

Baijiu is China’s most popular spirit. The clear liquid has a distinctive savoury, malty taste. It is traditionally sipped in small glasses, but is also used in cocktails.

Due to its smoothness, Thompson recommends his baijiu to be enjoyed straight.

Founded in 2011 by Dr John Walters, a former biochemist, the English Spirit Distillery has facilities in Essex and Cornwall. All of the company’s spirits are made in tiny 200 litre copper pot stills.

Walters recently teamed up with explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes to make small batch British-made rum distilled with exotic woods inspired by his expeditions.

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