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 by mandarins, investors are enjoying the sweetness of its profits even as other investments sour amid an economic downturn that reduced growth to 7.4% in the third quarter.
The Shanghai-listed maker of...