Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sibu's Own Peng Guan Distillery

丙源貿易有限公司, Syarikat Peng Guan Pencarakan Sdn. Bhd. ( )
No.16, Market Road, P.O.Box 151,
96007 Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Tel: 084-331768, 084-330421, 084-311549 Fax: 084-321748 E-mail:
Contact: 孫春福 ( Soon Choon Hoo )
Category: 製造業 (Manufacturing,winery)

The Peng Guan Distillery in Lanang Road was started by Khoo Peng Loong and the Soon family. This distillery has been around for more than 50 years!

If it can be upgraded, and slightly refurbished, it could become one of the tourists' interest areas. With growing wide interest in wine drinking, Sarawak rice wines can become popular. Rebottling the Bai Jiu and improving its taste and quality, the distillery can even make it into the global market.

When we were young, we were often very keen to visit the distillery and learn more about it. But teachers being conservative would never make Peng Guan Distillery a part of our educational tours.

From what we generally know from our parents, our wines in China are traditionally made from grains like rice, kaoliang ,wheat, barley, millet and sorghum. But wines from the Fujian province from where the ancestors of the Sibu Foochow came from are made from glutinous rice.

Traditionally, the making of rice wine is rather simple. The glutinous rice is polished and then steamed.

However, in a large factory, the process is slightly more scientific.

Different kinds of acids are used in order to destroy the microbes found in the process of making wine, which if not destroyed will spoil the production. According to some wine connoissuers, this also gives the various wines a unique taste.

Water is an important component in the wine making process. So in order to bring out the best wines, often spring water is used. Therefore in many parts of Fujian, places with special fragrant natural water would encourage wine making. The pH and mineral content of the water would enhance the flavour of the wines.

It is therefore often claimed that the Ibans in the past made good rice wines because they used very clear natural mountain water.

The wine making process also requires a liquor starter or "starter cake" (麴餅; pinyin: qū bǐng) or "liquor medicine" (酒藥, 酒药; pinyin: jiǔ yaò), the liquor starters for Chinese wine are cakes or pastes containing a complex mixture of various yeasts, molds, and bacteria, which are used to inoculate the grains. The starter converts the grain starches to sugars, and sugars to ethanol. Certain starters also acidify the grain mixture. Each brewery uses a different type of starter cake that was made at their facilities from previous starter cultures, which are handed down from generation to generation. Larger factories often use pure cultures of each organism in a starter instead of the actual cakes themselves.

There are three main types of starters:

Small starter (Chinese: 小麴, 小曲; pinyin: xiǎo qū): Rice that had been cultured predominantly by molds of the Rhizopus (Chinese: 小麴菌, pinyin: xiǎo qū jùn or 根霉菌, pinyin: gēn meí jùn) and Mucor (Chinese: 毛霉菌, pinyin: maó meí jùn) genus, as well as yeast and other bacteria. The mixture generates less heat, so they are mostly used in the tropical South of China.
Large starter (Chinese: 酒麴, 酒曲; pinyin: jiǔ qū, or 麥麴, 麦曲; pinyin: maì qū): Rice that had been cultured predominantly by Aspergillus oryzae (Chinese: 麴菌, 麴霉菌, 曲霉菌, pinyin: qū meí jùn, Japanese: 麹菌, koji-kin) , other molds, yeast, and bacteria. Almost all famous alcoholic drinks in China belong to this type. Wine made from a small starter is usually finished using large starters for flavor.
Red starter (Chinese: 紅麴, 红曲; pinyin: hóng qū): Rice that had been cultured with yeast and Monascus purpureus (Chinese: 紅曲菌, pinyin: hóng qū jùn) or other red rice molds of the Monascus genus. This starter gives the wine a purple red colour and is used to give wines a unique colour and flavour.
The starter is either mixed in water using only the filtrate of the mixture, or the starter is dried, ground, and applied directly in the form of a dry powder. Although the manufacturing process requires only one type of starter for fermentation, many Chinese wines are brewed their liquors from two of more types of starters.

In Peng Guan distillery, little is really known to the outside world. But it has been producing adequate distilled liquor to satisfy the consumers' needs in Sarawak. On purchasing of a bottle of liquor from Peng Guan, you need to check the alcohol content, which may be very, very high.

The high alcohol content comes from one extra step called distillation. Once distilled the rice wine becomes a more potent alcoholic drink called baijiu (白酒; pinyin: bái jiǔ; lit. "white liquor"), which can sometimes be as high as 70-80% alcohol.

The production of baijiu is so similar in color and mouthfeel to vodka that some foreigners refer to it as "Chinese vodka" or "Chinese white vodka." However, unlike vodka, baijiu is generally distilled only once (as opposed to five or more times for some vodkas) and less thoroughly filtered, which gives each liquor its own unique and sometimes penetrating (or even somewhat harsh) flavour and fragrance.

(adapted from Wikipedia)

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