Pricey wine on bill

Right: Two bottles of Moutai, costing $36,000 each, were part of the $240,000 bill.  Left: Moutai is distilled from fermented sorghum and wheat, and has an average
alcohol content of 53 per cent by volume. PHOTO: STOMP
Right: Two bottles of Moutai, costing $36,000 each, were part of the $240,000 bill. Left: Moutai is distilled from fermented sorghum and wheat, and has an average alcohol content of 53 per cent by volume. PHOTO: STOMP

Two bottles of 50-year-aged Moutai, sold at $36,000 each, were among the items listed in a $240,000 dining bill purportedly incurred by a group of 20 diners at Feng Shui Inn in Resorts World Sentosa.

A premium Chinese liquor made by the state-backed distillery Kweichow Moutai, Moutai (or Maotai) is distilled from fermented sorghum (a type of grain) and wheat.

The liquor is typically sold in 500ml bottles.

The value of Moutai, which is named after a village in Guizhou, China, varies according to its vintage.

Moutai vintages of up to 80 years old were previously put up for sale at 387,400 yuan (S$80,000) per bottle. The strong liquor, with an average alcohol content of 53 per cent by volume, coupled with its cultural significance as China's "national wine" since 1949, has attracted comparisons to vodka and scotch.

 

Overseas, Moutai first entered the spotlight in 1972 when it was poured for then-US President Richard Nixon at a historic state banquet in Beijing hosted by then-Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai. It is regularly consumed at official banquets, though this practice has waned due to a campaign against corruption spearheaded by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Moutai is perceived to be a symbol of excess, and its sales to the public sector dwindled with the beginning of the anti-graft drive in December 2012.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 12, 2017, with the headline 'Pricey wine on bill'. Print Edition | Subscribe