Maotai or Moutai is a brand of baijiu, a distilled Chinese liquor, made in the town of Maotai in China's Guizhou province. Produced by the state-owned Kweichow Moutai Company, the beverage is distilled from fermented sorghum and now comes in several different varieties.
Maotai originated during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), when northern Chinese distillers introduced advanced techniques to local processes to create a distinctive type of baijiu. Thereafter Maotai was produced at several local distilleries. During the Chinese Civil War, People's Liberation Army forces camped at Maotai and partook of the local liquor. Following the Communist victory in the war, the government consolidated the local distilleries into one state-owned company, Kweichow Moutai (the name is an old romanization of "Guizhou Maotai"). It became a popular drink at state functions and one of the country's most popular spirits.
During the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), Maotai became the first Chinese liquor to be produced in large-scale production, with an annual output of 170 tons. In 2007, more than 6,800 tons of Maotai were sold. Maotai is named after the town with the same name near Zunyi in Renhuai, Guizhou Province, where liquor distillery has a very long history. The Maotai of today originated during the Qing Dynasty and first won international fame when winning a gold medal at the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco.
Maotai was named a national liquor in 1951, two years after the founding of People's Republic of China. Maotai also claimed two gold medals separately at the Paris International Exposition in 1985 and 1986. Maotai has won 14 international awards and 20 domestic awards since the Chinese Revolution.
Maotai has been used on official occasions in feasts with foreign heads of state and distinguished guests visiting China. It is the only alcoholic beverage presented as an official gift by Chinese embassies in foreign countries and regions. It received wide exposure in China and abroad when Zhou Enlai used the liquor to entertain Richard Nixon during the state banquet for the U.S. presidential visit to China in 1972.  Zhou told Nixon that maotai had been famous since it won recognition at the San Francisco World's Fair in 1915, and that during the Long March, "maotai was used by us to cure all kinds of diseases and wounds." Nixon replied, "let me make a toast with this panacea." When Deng Xiaoping visited the United States in 1979, Henry Kissinger told him “I think if we drink enough Moutai we can solve anything.” 
Maotai became both the drink of choice for greeting foreign dignitaries and, as the price reached nearly US$200 a bottle, the bribe of choice to high officials. Counterfeiters moved in to meet the new demand, and other distilleries copied the methods of the state-owned enterprise.
Maotai currently sells over 200 tons of Maotai to over 100 countries and regions across the world.
In 2006, Maotai reported 5.3 billion yuan (about 688.3 million dollars) in sales volume, compared to about 4.2 billion yuan (about 538.46 million dollars) in 2005.
Beginning 1960s, China had tried to increase the output of Maotai by expanding the production methodologies of Maotai for other baijiu bands all over China, but the none of the results are the exact duplicate of the original Maotai, and most of the derivatives of Maotai is heavy/thick fragrant flavor type, as opposed to the sauce fragrant flavor type. These attempts, however, did result in many more famous new brands of baijiu (Chinese liquor) based on Maotai, including:
- An Jiu (安酒)
- Originally developed by Mr. Zhou Shaochen (周绍臣), who applied the sauce fragrant flavored Maotai production methodology for heavy/thick fragrant flavored liquor. The resulting product was initially called Zhou-Mao (周茅), meaning Maotai made by Zhou, until its rename as An Jiu in 1958, when the production plant was reorganized, eventually becoming Guizhou. More than two hundred forty types of traditional Chinese herbal medicine is added in the process， and the liquor is frequently referred by consumers as An Mao (安茅), meaning An derivative of Maotai.
- Baiyunbian Jiu (白云边酒)
- Baiyunbian Jiu (meaning "Next to the White Cloud Liquor") is produced by Baiyunbian Group in Hubei. The main characteristic of Baiyunbian Jiu in its combined flavor, which is sauce fragrant flavor containing heavy/thick fragrant flavor.
- Beidacang Jiu (北大仓酒)
- Produced by Heilongjiang, this Chinese liquor uses the exact Maotai methodology, and resulting Beidacang (meaning Northern Great Warehouse) retained the sauce fragrant flavor of Maotai, and is thus often nicknamed as Northern Maotai (北国茅台) by local consumers. Heavy/thick fragrant flavored brand is also developed.
- Bichun Jiu (碧春酒)
- Produced by Bichun Wine, Bichun Jiu (meaning "Blue-green Spring Liquor") traces its origin back in the 1960's as attempt to expand the production of Maotai. Using the methodology of Maotai production, Bichun Jiu is one of the few Maotai derivatives that retained the sauce fragrant flavor of the original Maotai, and hence is one of the two Chinese liquors nicknamed as Little Maotai (小茅台, the other being Jingshahuisha Jiu [金沙回沙酒]).
- Bijie Daqu (毕节大曲)
- Produced in Bijie, this Chinese liquor is heavy/thick fragrant flavored as most of the Maotai variants.
- Dong Jiu (董酒)
- Dong Jiu was first developed in the late Qing Dynasty in Zunyi region using Maotai methodology, but instead of greater Qu (Aspergillus and yeast), lesser Qu (Mucor, Rhizopus and yeast) is used instead. In addition, traditional Chinese herbal medicine are added.
- Guiyang Daqu (贵阳大曲)
- Guiyang Daqu is produced by the municipal plant of Guiyang, which was created in 1950 by combining numerous smaller family type shops into a single large plant. Guiyang Daqu is a series of products consisted several brands, including the heavy/thick fragrant flavored Guiyang Daqu and sauce fragrant flavored Qian-chun Jiu (黔春酒, meaning Guizhou Spring Liquor), which retained the original flavor of Maotai.
- Guizhouchun (贵州醇)
- Guizhouchun liquor is the first Chinese liquor with low level of alcohol, 35 degrees in comparison to 38 degrees of all other Chinese liquor of its time. Guizhouchun liquor is heavy/thick fragrant flavored baijiu.
- Guizhou Xunjiu (贵州熏酒)
- Guizhou Xunjiu literally means Guizhou smoked liquor, and it is a new category of Chinese liquor produced by Guizhou Huali Yuchun Liquor Co. Ltd. This is the greatest divergence of Maotai variant in that the methodology was significantly modified, despite being based on the same principles of that of Maotai. The new flavor, smoked fragrant flavor, is created with the birth of Guizhou Xunjiu.
- Guizhouye (贵州液)
- Guizhouye (meaning Guizhou liquid) is developed by China Kweichow Maotai Group, the producer of Maotai, as a variant of heavy/thick fragrant flavor.
- Huangshantou Jiu (黄山头酒)
- Huangshantou Jiu (黄山头酒, meaning "Yellow Mountain Peak Liquor") is produced by Hubei Huangshantou Liquor Co., Ltd. (湖北黄山头酒业有限公司). The chief scientist responsible for the success of Huangshantou Jiu was Mr. Zhou Henggang (周恒刚, Nov 1918 - Jun 16, 2004), who was one of the chief scientists from 1965 to 1966 on Maotai production expansion research project. Knowledge gained from Maotai production expansion efforts were applied to other liquor makers and when Mr. Zhou was assigned to Hubei Lotus Pond Jiuqu Liquor Factory (湖北藕池曲酒厂), the predecessor of Huangshantou Liquor Co. Ltd., to improve the product, Huangshantou Jiu was the result, and it is a heavy/thick fragrant flavored liquor.
- Huai Jiu (怀酒)
- Huai Jiu is produced by Guizhou, which traces it origin back in 1951, when it was formed with staff from Maotai plant. Huai Jiu uses identical Maotai production methodology and it is often referred as 2nd Maotai, (二茅台), one of the only two Chinese liquors awarded that honor (the other being Yaxijiao Jiu [鸭溪窖酒]).
- Jingshahuisha Jiu (金沙回沙酒)
- Jing sha hui sha (金沙回沙, meaning Golden Sand Returning Sand) liquor was first developed in northwestern Guizhou when Mr. Liu Kaiting (刘开庭), a Maotai technician taught local breweries the production methodology of Maotai, and the resulting product was almost identical to Maotai, and hence has been nicknamed as Little Maotai (小茅台), one of the only two Chinese liquors awarded that honor (the other being Bichun Jiu [碧春酒]). Jing-sha-hui-sha liquor is one of the very few Maotai variants that retained the sauce fragrant flavor of the original Maotai.
- Jun Jiu (匀酒)
- Jun Jiu is a variant of Maotai produced by the Guizhou Duyun Municipal Liquor Plant, a wholly owned subsidiary of Chengdu. Duyun Municipal Liquor Plant was formed on April 1, 1950 by combining several smaller breweries into one, and these small breweries produced Chinese liquor very similar to Maotai, and hence before being named as its current name Jun Jiu, their products were called Yun Mao (匀茅), meaning Maotai produced in Duyun. Jun Jiu has over a hundred kinds of traditional Chinese herbal medicines added during the production process, and has since developed into many derivative brands
- Laiyongchu Jiu (赖永初酒)
- This brand was developed by one Lai Yongchu (赖永初), one of the two Lai brothers who copied the Maotai production methodology at different plants located at alternative sites (the other brother is Lai Yongfeng [赖永峰], who developed Yaxijiao Jiu [鸭溪窖酒]). Laiyongchu Jiu are frequently referred as Lai Mao (赖茅), meaning Lai variant of Maotai. Mr. Lai Yongchu's son, Mr. Lai Shiqiang (赖世强) is the current CEO of Guizhou LaiYongchu Spirit Co., Ltd (贵州赖永初酒业有限公司), the company that makes Laiyongchu liquor, which is one of the predecessor of Maotai, and several new brands have been developed.
- Lang Jiu (郎酒)
- Lang Jiu (meaning "Man's Liquor") is one of the few Maotai variant that is able to have the same sauce fragrant flavor of the original Maotai, and it was one of the four alternative sites to experiment relocation of Maotai production. Lang Jiu plant is located in Gulin County, around 40 km away from the original Maotai plant and the original staff were from Maotai. Produced by Langjiu Group, Lang Jiu series include brands such as Honghualang Liquor (红花郎酒, meaning Red Flower Man), Xinlang Liquor (新郎酒, meaning New Man's Liquor), Laolang Jiu (老郎酒 meaning Legacy Man's Liquor), Shexiangcangpin Liquor (奢香藏品 Luxury Fragrant Collection Liquor) and Langpaitequ Liquor (郎牌特曲, meaning Man's Brand Special Qu).
- Meijiao (湄窖)
- Developed by Guizhou Meijiao Ltd, this derivative of Maotai consists of several brands, each belonging to either sauce fragrant type, or heavy/thick fragrance type. One unique characteristic of Meijiao is that it was the first Chinese liquor to have a new flavor, the tea fragrant flavor.
- Pingbajiao Jiu (平坝窖酒)
- Produced in Pingba County, this variant of Maotai is characterized by using both the greater Qu (Aspergillus and yeast) and lesser Qu (Mucor, Rhizopus and yeast), resulting in the mixed fragrance flavor.
- Qingxi Qing Jiu (青溪青酒)
- Qingxi Qing Jiu is a series of Chinese liquor derived from Maotai, produced in Zhenyuan County, Guizhou, and it includes brands such as Qing Xi Quan (青溪泉, meaning Green Creek Spring), Wu Yang Ye (舞阳液), Wu Li Xiang (五里香, meaning Five Miles Fragrance), and Qing Xi Daqu (青溪大曲). Qingxi Qing Jiu is an unual variant of Maotai in that the series includes two type of fragrance, some brand is sauce fragrance like Maotai itself, while other brand is heavy/thick fragrance like most cheaper variants of Maotai.
- Xishui Daqu (习水大曲)
- Xishui Daqu is produced in a plant on the bank of Chishui River (赤水河), and it is directly across from the plant of Lang Jiu (郎酒) on the opposite bank in Gulin County. This derivative of Maotai is heavy/thick fragrant type, but the production process is based on Chinese liquor of sauce fragrance type.
- Xi Jiu (习酒)
- Xi Jiu is a brand of Maotai produced by Guizhou Xijiu Ltd. (贵州习酒有限责任公司), a wholly owned subsidiary of China Kweichow Maotai Group, the producer of Maotai. The plant is in Xishui County, Guizhou, approximately 50 km away from Maotai plant, but the environment is different enough to affect the ingredients, resulting in a new brand of Chinese liquor.
- Xiaohutuxian Jiu (小糊涂仙酒)
- Produced by plants setup by Guangzhou Zhujiang Yunfeng Wine Ltd at the Maotai Town, and has developed various bands. This derivative of Maotai is heavy/thick fragrance type.
- Yaxijiao Jiu (鸭溪窖酒)
- Production begin in 1922 when Lai Yongfeng (赖永峰), one the Lai brothers using identical Maotai production method at a new site in Yaxi town (鸭溪镇), and was so popular that it was nicknamed 2nd Maotai (二茅台), one of the only two Chinese liquors awarded that honor (the other being Hui Jiu [怀酒]). Currently produced by Guzhou Yaxi Wine Ltd.
- Yuquan Jiu (玉泉酒)
- Yuquan Jiu (玉泉酒, meaning Jade Spring Liquor) is produced by Heilongjiang in Harbin, first revealed in 1975 after a year-long development, and the head of design team was Mr. Zhou Henggang (周恒刚, Nov 1918 - Jun 16, 2004), who was one of the chief scientists from 1965 to 1966 on Maotai production expansion research project. Knowledge gained from Maotai production expansion efforts were applied to other liquor makers and when Mr. Zhou was assigned to Yuquan Wine Factory, the predecessor of Yuquan Wine Co. Ltd., to improve the product, Yuquan Jiu was the result, and its main characteristic is in its combined flavor, which heavy/thick fragrant flavor containing sauce fragrant flavor.
- Zhuchang Jiu (朱昌酒)
- Produced with Maotai methodology with over thirty types of traditional Chinese herbal medicine added.
- Zhen Jiu (珍酒)
- Produced by Guizhou Zhenjiu Wine Company Limited. This brand was originally established as one of the experimental plants to expand the production of Maotai at alternative sites.
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- six classes of awards: Grand Prize (Best of Class), Medal of Honor (95-100 points), Gold Medal (85-94 points), Silver Medal (75-84 points), Bronze Medal (60-74 points), Honorable Mention (without medal): "1915 San Francisco Panama-Pacific International Exposition Award Medals, Souvenir & State Fund Dollars". expomedals.com. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
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- MacMillan, Margaret (2007). Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World. New York: Random House. pp. 149–150. ISBN 9781400061273.
- Production expansion attempt of Maotai
- Guizhou An Liquor Group Co., Ltd. (贵州安酒集团有限公司)
- An Jiu 安酒(安茅)
- Baiyunbian Group (白云边集团)
- Baiyunbian Jiu 白云边酒
- Beidacang Group Co., Ltd. (黑龙江北大仓集团有限公司)
- Beidacang Jiu 北大仓酒(北国茅台)
- Bichun Wine (碧春酒业)
- Bichun Jiu 碧春酒(小茅台)
- Bijie Daqu 毕节大曲
- Dong Jiu 董酒
- Guiyang Daqu 贵阳大曲
- Guizhouchun 贵州醇
- Guizhou Huali Yuchun Liquor Co. Ltd. (贵州华力玉醇酒业有限公司)
- Guizhou Xunjiu 贵州熏酒
- China Kweichow Maotai Group
- Guizhouye 贵州液
- Huangshantou Jiu 黄山头酒
- Haihang Huaijiu Co. Ltd. (贵州海航怀酒酒业)
- Hui Jiu 怀酒(二茅台)
- Jingshahuisha Jiu 金沙回沙酒(小茅台)
- Guanzhen Liquor Co. Ltd. (成都观真酒业有限公司)
- Jun Jiu 匀酒(匀茅)
- Laiyongchu Jiu 赖永初酒(赖茅)
- Lang Jiu 郎酒
- Guizhou Meijiao Ltd
- Meijiao 湄窖
- Pingbajiao Jiu 平坝窖酒
- Qingxi Qing Jiu 青溪青酒
- Xishui Daqu 习水大曲
- Xi Jiu 习酒
- Guangzhou Zhujiang Yunfeng Wine Ltd
- Xiaohutuxian Jiu 小糊涂仙酒
- Yaxijiao Jiu 鸭溪窖酒(二茅台)
- Yuquan Wine Co., Ltd. (黑龙江玉泉酒业有限责任公司)
- Yuquan Jiu 玉泉酒
- Zhuchang Jiu 朱昌酒
- Zhuchang Jiu
- Zhen Jiu 珍酒