Moutai is a sharp-tasting liquor from the town of the same name in southern China. It’s also the world’s most valuable alcohol brand, thanks to its popularity among the Communist Party elite and its use as a lubricant for business deals and favors.

Anti-corruption campaigns have dragged down Kweichow Moutai’s value, but right now the company is enjoying a strong upswing. It is by some distance the world’s number one alcohol producer, ahead of Johnny Walker. It isn’t cheap for customers either: the most expensive bottles of Moutai can cost thousands of euros. But the distillery produces liquor under the protected Moutai name in places other than the town of Maotai itself, a clear violation of the rules. The company needn’t fear any consequences, because it’s the favorite brand of China’s Communist Party, which is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary. And also because the drink has long played a major role in the Party’s eventful history, as Mathias Bölinger shows.
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