Chinese Moutai University to offer liquor degree

Kweichow Moutai liquor Image copyright Javier Petrucci
Image caption A bottle of the fiery Chinese liquor can cost around £128

The world's most valuable alcoholic beverage company is setting up a university to allow hundreds of students to study the science of liquor.

The Chinese state-run Kweichow Moutai company is to open Moutai University in the city of Renhuai in the country's southern Guangzhou Province as soon as it receives its accreditation from the Ministry of Education, the South China Morning Post reports.

The 600 students, initially drawn from the local area, will be able to study courses such as wine-making, food quality and food safety on a 13-hectare (32 acres) campus. It cost 1.9bn yuan ($28m; £21.7m) to set up, the majority of the money coming from Kweichow Moutai.

South China Morning Post says that the Chinese liquor industry has long suffered a skills shortage, and the university is seen as a means of attracting new recruits.

'National drink'

Kweichow Moutai brews the fiery Moutai (also known as Maotai) brand of liquor, which is often called China's national drink, and it is a popular beverage at state functions.

Moutai has become the gift of choice from Chinese state officials to foreign dignitaries, and its popularity as a bribe meant that sales dipped by as much as 30% during a government crackdown on corruption in 2014.

Easing of official checks on graft and a mass-marketing campaign have seen the company's value soar, making it larger than Johnny Walker distiller Diageo, Forbes reported in April. A bottle of Moutai currently costs 1,300 yuan ($166; £128), and 95% of its sales are within China.

According to South China Morning Post, Moutai University won't be the first in the country to offer unusual courses. Elsewhere, students can study crayfish preparation, lotteries, or the science of hot noodles.

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Reporting by Alistair Coleman, Kerry Allen

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