Maotai consumption bucks slowdown, brews crisis

Profits of Chinese distillers seem immune to the depressed economy, but analysts worry about unsustainable profit margins.

Maotai consumption bucks slowdown, brews crisis
Maotai, China's national liquor

Foreign luxury brands convey a certain status in China, but the highest esteem derives from a homegrown product maotai, a fiery liquor made from sorghum.

Maotai was reserved for party leaders for many years and gained international exposure when Zhou Enlai used it to toast former US president Richard Nixon during his landmark visit to the country in 1972. It remains an essential item at government banquets.

Although maotai is mostly consumed...

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