A clerk displaying a Moutai that costs 28,888 yuan (US$4,600) in Wenzhou. (Photo/Xinhua)
As the price of aged maotai spirit rises, Chinese liquor seems suddenly to have become a high-end product.
At auction last year, bottles of the liquor sold for a total of one billion yuan (US$160 million), accounting for 94% of the spirit's auction sales volume in the country, reports the Chinese-language Shenzhen Special Zone Herald.
A bottle of limited edition Handi Moutai, of which only 10 bottles were produced in 1992, sold for nearly 10 million yuan (US$1.6 million) last April, setting a new record for the most expensive liquor sold at auction. Shi Jincai, an expert at an association for Chinese liquor collection, said the spirit's price could rise even further, especially those produced before the 80s when the country's air, water and soil were not as polluted as they are now.
Some Moutai collectors buy the liquor for enjoyment and some for investment, Shi said. A property developer in Guangdong spent 100 million yuan (US$16 million) on maotai at an auction, Shi said. The price of the liquor has multiplied 10 times in only four years.
A written guide to maotai investment and collection says liquors produced in the mid-20th century are quite popular. Maotai in white-glazed porcelain bottles and clay bottles are good options for high-end investment. Limited version of the liquor or those sold at festivals are worth investing in as well, according to the book. Shape, alcohol content and smell are all factors for consideration in creating a collection.
Along with the liquor's rise to fame, so has come the increasing presence of counterfeit aged maotai. Some sellers sell imitation liquor by changing the alcohol content on the label or by replacing the liquor, according to Shi.
Shi Jincai 史進財