Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Sites for Liquor Making in China

Date of Submission: 28/03/2008
Criteria: (iii)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
State Administration of Cultural Heritage
State, Province or Region:
Hebei Province, Jiangxi Province and Sichuan Province
Ref.: 5320

The Tentative Lists of States Parties are published by the World Heritage Centre at its website and/or in working documents in order to ensure transparency, access to information and to facilitate harmonization of Tentative Lists at regional and thematic levels.

The sole responsibility for the content of each Tentative List lies with the State Party concerned. The publication of the Tentative Lists does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the World Heritage Committee or of the World Heritage Centre or of the Secretariat of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.

Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party


This property consists of five different sites for Liquor Making in China, they are:

1. Site of LiuLing Workshop, Xushui County, Hebei Province, N39.00534 E 115.38586

2. Site of Lidu Workshop, Jinxian County, Jiangxi Province, N28 0941- 28 46131 E1161 0115 - 116 3338

3. Site of Shuijingjie Workshop, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, N30 42 E104 10

4. Site of Cellar Cluster for Luzhou Laojiao Daqu Liquor, Luzhou City, Sichuan Province, N28 41 60 - 28 57 43 E105 19 36 - E105 33 5

5. Site of Tianyi Workshop for Jiannanchu Alcohol, Mianzhu City, Sichuan Province, N30 09 - 31 42 E103 54 - 104 20.

1. Site of Liuling zui Workshop

Liu Ling Zui Liquor Making Site is located in the first workshop of the Liu Ling Zui Distillery, Xushui County, Baoding City of Hebei Province. It was discovered in July, 1997. According to textual research made by experts, it belongs to Jin or Yuan Dynasty. This site was among the 4th batch of cultural heritage properties announced by the provincial government. In May, 2006, the State Department announced it as one of the 6th batch of national cultural heritage properties of China.The site is 60.5meters in length from south to north, 85meters in width from east to west. The site consists of 6 zymolytic pools and one ancient well. The zymolytic pools are in two lines from south to north, 8 pools either line. The pools are rectangle and built with caesious bricks. They are 1.6 - 1.7 meters in width, 3.45 meters in length and 2 meters in depth. The pools were built with the single-brick-flat-laying style and the middle substrates of the fourth walls are enchased with bamboo strips and the top parts are nailed iron boards which were used to fix the ferment. The ancient well is located to the north of the zymolytic pools. It has a diameter of 1.2 meters and is in the single-brick-laying style. The bricks are 30.5cm in length, 5.5cm in width and 5cm in thickness. The part above 1.6 meters of the well had been demolished when the workshop was rebuilt, but was later restored. In the underground storeroom, there are still wooden cases and green flower water jars of Qing Dynasty with a history of more than 300 years.

During the excavations carried out in 1997, 2000 and 2005, the foundation, kitchen range, slot and ash pit were discovered one after the other. Besides these many remnants like cock leg bottles, four tied pots, water crocks, wooden cases were also discovered. The relics and remnants clearly outline one integral liquor workshop. Research done by the expert group of the State Bureau of Cultural Heritage dated the site back to Jin or Yuan Dynasty.

This discovery provides new evidence for the research on social, political and economical status in ancient northern area as well as on the change from making wine to tequila. From the known archaeological information, we can say that Liu Ling Zui Liquor Making Site is one of the cradles of tequila making in China.

2. Site of Lidu Workshop

Li Du Liquor Making Site, with a total area of about 15 km2, is located in Jinxian County of Jiangxi Province. The site is distributed in the area from the old workshop of Lidu to the Longevity palace of Qianjie and Houjie. From June to November in 2002, Jiangxi Provincial Archaeological Research Institute of Historical and Cultural Relics has conducted archaeological excavation of 300 m2 at the site. There are totally 11 cultural accumulated layers spanning six main periods including the Dynasties of South-Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing, modern times and the present according to neighboring location and the characteristics of unearthed relics. The relics of the period of South-Song are mainly residential, and those of the following five periods are successive ones of the liquor workshop spanning seven hundred years. The unearthed cultural relics include 350 pieces covering the periods from Song Dynasty, Yuan Dynasty, Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty, and Mingguo Period, and are mainly porcelain liquor wares. Among the historic and cultural relics are many ancient architecture complexes of Qing Dynasty, which arose from the industry of liquor making.

This site is the earliest simple liquor making site discovered in China so far. It has a significant position in the field of Chinese alcoholic culture. This site has been ranked as one of the top ten archaeological discoveries of China in 2002. In 2006, it was proclaimed by the State Council as an important national historical site to be given special protection.

3. Site of Shuijingjie Workshop

Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site is located in the place from No. 15 to No.23 of Shuijing Street, Jinjiang District, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province. It is about 150 meters away to the west of Fuhe River and about 350 meters away to the north of Jinjiang River, with the eastern boundary extending to Jinquan Street, the south-western boundary extending to Huangshan Alley and the northern boundary extending to Shuijin Street. The location of the site was formerly the liquor workshop of Sichuan Quanxing Distillery. During March to April of 1999, Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and Sichuan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology jointly launched an all-round archaeological excavation of this site, with an excavated area of 280 square meters, and determined the age of it was from the Ming Dynasty to modern times.

At present, Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site is the first site of ancient spirits brewing workshop that has been scientifically excavated in China. The total area of this site is more than 1700 square meters, with altogether 280 square meters of which has been excavated since 8998. The found relics of brewage facilities have relative complete categories (including 3 air-curing terraces, 8 bodegas, 4 cooking pits, 4 ash pits and some other relics, such as distillatory base, roadbed, wood column, etc.) and are well preserved. Besides, there has unearthed lots of shreds of white-and-blue porcelains. The ages of the air-curing terraces respectively belong to the Ming and Qing Dynasties and even modern times. The fruit of the site excavation indicates that there had appeared considerable mature distilled spirits brewing technology in the Ming Dynasty as the latest.

Shuijing Street Distillery Site is a quite precious material evidence for the research scope of brewage craftwork. From the abundant sorts of brewage traces and numerous relics of food and beverage utensils unearthed from the site, the whole flow of the traditional spirits brewing craftwork can be reproduced. It is also one of the important fruits of Chinese city archaeology in recent years, which has greatly enriched the contents and research subjects of Chengdu's city archaeology. Especially the layout of "store in the front, distillery in the rear" has great academic values for discussing the distribution, special structure and evolving characteristics and rules of the urban handicraft industry of Chengdu in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, as well as realizing the development status of city industry and commerce and the society at that time.

4. Site of Cellar Cluster for Luzhou Laojiao Daqu Liquor

Luzhou is situated in the upper Yangtze River, which is one of birthplaces and a major production area for fine liquors. The earliest production of Luzhou Daqu began in 1324, when the Yuan Dynasty ruled. At present, there still remain 1619 Luzhou Daqu cellars, spreading across a 40-km2 area in central Luzhou city. Among them, 4 cellars were built during the reign of Emperor Wanli (1573 -1620) and now have become the cultural relic under special national protection. The remaining 1615 cellars, built and put into use from early Qing Dynasty to early Republic of China, now are the cultural relic under the protection of Luzhou city and are preparing to apply for nationally protected cultural relic. Luzhou Daqu cellars so far have been the most intact and still in-use group of original cellars. Each of these cellars has a capacity of about 22m3 and the wall and bottom are covered by quite elastic dark brownish clay, which contains more than 400 sorts of beneficial micro-organisms. Situated in south-western China, a region blessed by the originality and diversity of brewing-related spirit and folk culture, Luzhou Daqu, in such social, historical and cultural environment, has inherited and followed traditional procedures and techniques. In particular, most cellars have managed to maintain their authenticity, originality and integrity in aspects such as the location, designing, techniques and materials. Liquors produced therein are quite peculiar and can be called as the ancestor and representative of China's Luzhou-flavour liquors.

5. Site of Tianyi Workshop for Jiannanchun Alcohol

Jian Nan Chun is the Da Qu liquor produced in Mianzhu since the Qing Dynasty (A.D 1616-1911), the history of which dates back to the Tang Dynasty (A.D 618-907). Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery, which is still in production, and its surrounding relics, are located west to the downtown Mianzhu City and distributing over several places such as Chapan Street, Qipan Street and Gunzipo.

Jian Nan Chun Liquor Making Site consists of the abandoned part of "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery and the workshop owner's housing architecture. There are varied unearthed relics in aspect of white alcoholic brewage technique: fermentation cellar, oven, well, airing hall, barn, ditch, immersion pool, distillation facilities and wine set, etc. The total area of the relics is about 1,500 square meters. There are also relics of other workshops, which were established at the same time with "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery relics, in an area of 120,000 square meters.

Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery relics is a cluster of broadly-scattering Qing Dynasty featured distilleries, that are well established and carefully maintained, some of which are run down by generations. The well-maintained workshops and relics show us the whole spectacular picture of making Chinese liquor since the early Qing Dynasty: raw material immersion, cooking, ferment preparation, ferment mixing, fermentation, distilling, brewing, discharging waste water, etc. The discovery of the relics not only enriches the archaeological study on Chinese urban industry, also provides concrete proof for the history of brewing the supreme quality liquor, Jian Nan Chun.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Liu Ling Zui Liquor Making Site offers important witness for the research on Chinese traditional techniques of tequila brewing production, and the development, creation process in the future. Li Du Liquor Making Site, with the discovered cellars, wells, slots, cooking ranges, airing halls, distilling facilities and other relics, has witnessed the whole process of strong white spirit brewing in China. Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site is the material carrier of the essence of Chinese "thick aroma" spirits brewing craftwork, of which the abundant sorts of traces and unearthed relics have provided evidences for traditional Chinese brewage culture. Furthermore, based on the traditional brewage technology, the present "thick aroma" spirits are continuously absorbing and perfect the essences, carrying on and making innovations of the unique connotation of Chinese liquor culture. Luzhou Daqu Liquor Making Site bears a unique testimony to a cultural tradition. The folk culture and traditions that facilitated the formation of the wine culture in this region are especially diverse and peculiar and they in turn can be reflected by social, historical and cultural milieu of people living in this region. The unearthed relics in Jian Nan Chun Liquor Making Site are magnificent in scale and bountiful in brewage heritage. The discovery of these relics gives us a vivid picture of brewage procedures hundreds of years ago.

The discovered relics in Liu Ling Zui Liquor Making Site constitute a set of intact, peculiar sight of traditional tequila workshop. In Li Du Liquor Making Site, the glazed pottery vats with the edge built with laying bricks and distilling facilities built with laying bricks are unique to Chinese alcohol sites and also provide an example of the global alcohol brewing. Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site represents an exemplification of science and technology combination which has a unique style, regional characteristics and cultural values. With the core of traditional distillery craftwork, the site, along with the ancient bodegas which have been used for hundreds of years, is not only the carrier and mine of brewing microbes, but also the scarce material for researching the brewing microbes and the changes of brewage craftworks, as well as the representative of solid biotechnology engineering, hence it has very important scientific values. Besides, the site represents the entire craftwork flow from distiller's yeast making, brewage, lees supplement and materials arrangement to storage, blending, etc., and represents the scientificity and rationality of Chinese liquor brewing technology. Luzhou Daqu Liquor Making Site can serve as an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural ensemble or landscape to illustrate (a) significant stage(s) in human history. Especially from mid Qing Dynasty to early Republic of China, this was a period when Luzhou Daqu had accounted for an unprecedented large share of the city's economy. Jian Nan Chun Liquor Making Site also witnessed unique techniques such as batch operation, ferment preparation, fermentation, distillation, flavouring and storage, etc., which cannot be displaced, imitated or copied. In the case of Li Du Liquor Making Site, Because of the prosperity of Lidu alcohol industry, some local cultural forms became flourishing, such as literature, calligraphy and music. The discovery of Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site has provided a powerful material evidence for researching the developing processes of Chinese liquor brewing craftwork and the traditional Chinese liquor culture. No liquor, no ritual. The traditional Chinese liquor culture is bearing the important content of the traditional Chinese Li (ritual) Culture. Meanwhile, the site has important meanings for researching the history and culture in Sichuan area, the social and economic statuses, folkways and folk-customs form ancient times to modern times. So the site is in accordance with the standard vi of the world cultural heritage assessment. Luzhou Daqu is also directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. So far, in Luzhou there have been many liquor-praising poems, legends, songs, dances and folk traditions that are a direct indication of the rich liquor culture in this region. 

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

1. Site of Liu Ling Zui Workshop

The discovery and excavation of Liu Ling Zui Liquor Making Site had complemented the lack of history record. At the time of excavation, archaeologists from the province and the state carried out research on site and confirmed its authenticity and importance.

Liu Ling Zui Liquor Making Site is located in the workshop of Liu Ling Zui distillery. After being discovered, it caused highly attention of the local county government and enterprises. They adopted positive measurement and achieved its unvarnished protection.

This site has clear stratum, integrate shape, and distinct era characteristics. Although the excavation area is comparatively small at present, it is believed that new and important discoveries will be made.

2.  Site of LiDu Workshop

The history of Li Du Liquor Making Site dated back to Yuan Dynasty. The workshops of different periods were established on the original site, following the layout of the preceding period, except for extended areas and a few changes, so all the workshop layouts are well-kept with wells, cooking ranges, airing halls, cellars, distilling facilities, wall bases, slots, roads, ash pits, poles and so on. Moreover, there are representative porcelain alcohol wares of different periods among the unearthed cultural relics, so we can have a clear general layout of this large workshop in different periods, lasting seven hundred years. Lidu town, an ancient and well-known Chinese alcohol commercial town, has still kept a great deal of ancient Qing Dynasty architecture complexes such as streets, alcohol storeroom, selling stores and so on. The well-kept Site proves the ancient record of the prosperity of Lidu alcohol industry, with a high degree of authenticity and integrity.

Experts argued that the discovery of this Site is a breakthrough in the archaeological study of Chinese liquor making sites while it is the first liquor making site of small size in our country, and the most ancient site in China so far.

The Site of Lidu Strong White Spirit Workshop, as the important national historical site to be given special protection, is being protected with sheds, and a general protection program is being designed.

3.  Site of Shuijingjie Workshop

Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site was originated from the Middle Ming Dynasty and continued to modern times. The superposed layers of Ming, Qing and modern times are the proof of the authenticity of its ages.

The excavated air-curing terraces of Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site form a superposition of three ages of Ming, Qing and modern times, and some bodegas of the site are continuously used till today, all of these reflect the entire inheriting of special equipments and craftworks.

A site protection and management office was established in 1999 and a conservation master plan of the site is being drafted.

4.  Site of Cellar Cluster for Luzhou Laojiao Daqu Liquor

Given its large extension and especially the fact that it can fully exhibit the characteristics and process of China's traditional brewing techniques and its physical construction and important features so far have remained intact, it is therefore in its integrity. This cultural heritage began in the Ming Dynasty and became quite sizeable during the reign of Emperor Wanli. Its continuous use can be testified by various historical records. For instance, beside Luzhou Daqu cellars there still remain the Longquan Well and Longquan Well Monument rebuilt at the 12th year of the reign of Emperor Jiaqing of the Qing Dynasty, which, as unmovable cultural relics, were used to store the water needed by the brewing of Luzhou Daqu. So far, most of these cellars are still dispersed in clusters across Luzhou city and maintain their original appearance, location, operation procedures and techniques. According to the study by Research Institute of Food Fermentation of China Academy of Sciences, the variety and amount of beneficial micro-organisms in these cellars have the No. 1 ranking among cellars across the nation. Luzhou liquors thus acquire a kind of uniqueness and elegance. At present, this site is under protection according to relevant laws and regulations. A working group of heritage protection was established by the local government.

5. Site of Tianyi Workshop for Jiannanchun Alcohol

It is approved by archaeological exploration and excavation that Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery relics has rich brewage relics, including pit, airing hall, well, barn and oven, etc. The area is about 1,200 square meters. Beside "Tian Yi Lao Hao", there are other brewage relics of Qing Dynasty in area of over 100,000 square meters; the underground brewage relics and the supporting installation are fully maintained. The relics' structure is almost complete except for the seizing modern buildings, which are under removal from Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" and surrounding distillery relics. Some relics are under excavation. The "Tian Yi Lao Hao" is under repair and protection. Besides protective exhibition, most of the excavated relics are protected in an underground sealing condition. The plan is to restore and exhibit part of the old workshop by excavation. The Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" relics maintains the good authenticity and integrity. The masterplan for the conservation of this site was worked out in January, 2006. According to this masterplan, the area of the key protection zone is 0.145 hectare, the general protection zone 0.645 hectare and the construction control zone is about 4 hectare.  

Comparison with other similar properties

1. Site of Liulingzui Workshop

Comparison with other similar properties, Liu ling zui burned cauldron site has the following characteristics. The first one is the dense cultural atmosphere. The location of the site, Xushui County has the centuries-old history. Since the founding of this county in the West Han Dynasty, the folklore about liquor also went around widely, and Xushui County always has the reputation of "northland liquor town". The second characteristic is its being representative of north vintage history. So far, the discovered sites in the whole nation centralize in the south of Yangtze River. According to analysis on the climate conditions, nationality features and dietetic customs, north area also should have been important region of liquor making. The discovery of this site finally provided the evidence of northland liquor making. The third characteristic is that it provides evidence for the origin of tequila in China.

2. Site of Lidu Workshop

Compared with other sites, Li Du Liquor Making Site has the following characteristics: First, in the term of time Li Du liquor making started from Yuan Dynasty. Second, this site lasted from Yuan Dynasty to the present with a history of seven hundred years, and is not only the most important site in China, but also the first liquor culture site with a long history. Third, this Site boasts abundant liquor making craftworks relics, such as wells, cooking ranges, airing hall, round cellars, distilling facilities, wall bases, ash pits and so on, which clearly show that Chinese white spirit brewing started from small-sized craftworks with paddy as raw materials in South-China to large-sized craftworks in North-China. Fourth, the preservation of the relics on the site is quite considerate; for instance, the fermenting cellars are enclosed by bricks with ceramic glaze end jars. Fifth, the workshop was buried underground with a preliminary calculation of at least 5k㎡, which is the largest one in China so far. Sixth, the large area of underground relics as well as numerous and ancient above ground alcohol shops and streets reflects the prosperity of the ancient Chinese alcohol industry, which developed a school of its own in China.

3.  Site of Shuijingjie Workshop

Among the Chinese thick-aroma liquor workshop sites, Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site is the earliest, most representative and most well preserved one. Chengdu is listed in the first batch of famous historical and cultural cities proclaimed by the State Council of China and is one of the ten ancient capitals of China. In the history of China and among the Chinese big cities, Shuijing Street Liquor Making Site is a typical representative of the traditional brewage workshops and craftworks, and it is the one that synthesizes all the strong points of the famous liquors of urban culture.  

4. Site of Cellar Cluster for Luzhou Laojiao Daqu Liquor

Compared with other brewing sites in China, Luzhou Daqu Liquor Making Site is characterized by following four aspects: 1. The largest size. There are more than 1600 cellars that have an age of more than 100 years. 2. The longest history (historical value). The number of century-old cellars and the average age of the cellars are greatest. 3. The finest quality (scientific value). As the only century-old cellars under continuous use in the world, during the long span of time, these cellars have accumulated hundreds of micro-organisms, formed a benign ecosystem, maintained a fine quality and become a "living" cultural heritage. 4. The purest birth (social value). For a long time, Luzhou liquors have been praised as the "ancestor of Luzhou-flavor", and it is these cellars that guarantee such purest birth.

Compared with other liquor making sites, this cultural heritage property is blessed with unique and superior natural, geographic and historical factors. In particular, these cellars at present are still in use and keep on producing world-class liquors and actually become a sort of "living" cultural heritage. Numerous ancient documents and archaeological articles excavated in this region all can fully testify to the fact that Luzhou Daqu cellars had survived the Dynasty of Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing. It is a unique representative of the liquor culture for the Yangtze River Valley.

5. Site of Tianyi Workshop for Jiannanchun Alcohol

Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery and its relics, compared with other brewing relics, are greatly featured. The liquor made by Jian Nan Chun "Tian Yi Lao Hao" Distillery is excellent region-featured Chinese aromatic liquor. Its brewing technique has been handed down from generation to generation. Its history has been clearly recorded, which is indicating there were lots of historic events about it.

The relics spread a large area of about 120,000 square meters, composed by several street-side workshop clusters in a "shop at front, pit at back" style. The relics contain rich heritage and entire production factors, revealing the whole process from raw material storage, cooking, ferment preparation, ferment mixing, spreading and airing to distilling, which is the only one among China's famous distillery relics. The Da Qu pit and Xiao Qu pit both are in one site; different pits producing different liquors. No distillery relics like this had been found in the previous archaeological discoveries. In that the modern buildings are not taking much seizure and the underground relics are well maintained, it will do good to the further excavation, protection and exhibition of the site.