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  • Writer's pictureRick

Taiwan.Kinmen.Travel: Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc. (金门酒厂)

Date: 16th November 2019, 12:30pm

I was on a cycling adventure to hunt down all the Wind Lion Gods to the south of Jincheng Town on Kinmen this day. Along the way from Xiguoshan Village (昔果山) to Dongzhou (东洲) in Jinning Township, I passed by Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Factory (金门酒厂), an entity that was owned by the Kinmen government. Kinmen's world-famous Kaoliang liquors were produced here.

Part of the liquor factory was opened to public and it also had a shop selling its own series of liquors. I decided to drop in to tour the facility and also hoped that there would be some Kaoliang-flavoured foodstuff for sales as it was lunch time.

Visitors to the factory were allowed to visit the visitor centre (right of below photo) and the liquor shop (middle-left of photo).

Outside the visitor centre, I was greeted by a large boulder that had some engravings on it: "金门高粱, 两岸飘香". The eight-word phrase literally meant "Kinmen Kaoliang (liquor)'s fragrance could be smelled on both shores". It was from Taiwan's former president, Ma Ying-jeou (马英九).

In the visitor centre, a large display detailed the distilling and making processes of Kaoliang liquor by the factory. Shelves of bottled liquor in different forms and shapes were also showcased. Some of them had historical significance, like the "Black King Kong" (黑金刚) series of aged Kaoliang liquor that were used for the meet-up banquet between the two leaders of China and Taiwan (马习会) held in Singapore in 2015. Ma Ying-jeou had also presented Xi Jinping (习近平) with some aged old wine from the Matsu Islands as gifts.

The visitor centre was like a mini-museum for Taiwan's political events that the liquors had played a part in.

To one side of the visitor centre was a small park with a giant mock-up of Kinmen's popular 58° (58%-alcohol) Kaoliang liquor. This park was the factory's hottest photography spot as most visitors would strike some creative poses with the liquor bottle. And the liquor shop was just next to the open space.

Once in the shop, a staff beckoned me towards a bar counter and said that Kaoliang liquor were available for sampling. I headed over and took a small glass of chilled liquor. It was said that chilling the liquor smoothened it by reducing the alcohol's burning sensation.

The liquor had a nice fragrance, and the first sip almost burnt my throat. With 58%-alcohol content, it was better to savour the liquor slowly instead of downing it at one go. I sat down at a table and sipped at it for 10 minutes, also allowing some time for my head to clear after finishing it — I won't deny that my head did spin a little.

The samplers were from these "white-label" 58° bottled Kaoliang liquor, which was the most popular in Kinmen. The liquors could be purchased almost anywhere in Kinmen, but in terms of prices, buying at the factory itself would be cheaper.

There were a wide series of Kaoliang liquors on the shelves. The longer-aged liquors were priced higher. Normally, high-alcohol-content liquors were used in cookings rather than for drinking.

Kinmen's Kaoliang liquors were stored in a post-war tunnel which was not opened to public, so the large poster (below) in the shop was the only way to "peep" into that tunnel with it rows of Kaoliang liquor stored in urns. Ageing the liquors required minimum 5 years in the naturally-cooled tunnel.

The number of places in the factory compound that visitors could access were rather limited and the shop sold liquors only, no foodstuff were available. I did not get a bottle of the Kaoliang liquor — even though it was a must-buy on my travel list — as I still had 14 days of island-hopping before flying home. I planned to get a bottle on the Matsu Islands towards the end of my trip.

I spent about 35 minutes at the factory and continued on my journey to look for Wind Lion Gods. Oops! I had a small glass of liquor and was about to ride a bicycle on the road, would the traffic police charge me?

Please do not drink if you are underage. And no driving after drinking. Be safe!

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