Joo Lee Chan’s New Range of Rice Wines


At recent I attended a new range of rice wines launch by Joo Lee Chan that inspired a new western food fusions and cocktail concepts. They say wines get better with time. When the wine is made from rice and time transcend a century — that warrants attention & meticulous savouring.


Pioneers of Chinese premium rice wines, Joo Lee Chan (JLC) with a history of 110 years (incepted in 1906) excited the media by unveiling a new series of rice wines, ginger rice wines and infused rice wines poised to create market buzz and propel rice wines beyond the kitchens into the realms of restaurants, clubs & bars as recreational social beverage.


Mention rice wines, one would imagine a traditional-looking bottle sitting on the kitchen stove – used by families as a reliable ingredient in the making of many scrumptious dishes and soups. Rice wines are also commonly used in making tonics to help new mothers recover quickly after giving birth. Chefs in Chinese restaurants count on them as a key secret ingredient in surprising diners with rice wine-inspired dishes.


In fact, rice wine plays a major role in Chinese cuisine — possibly coming second only to soy sauce in importance. So, what is the relevance of rice wines in today’s F & B world where umpteen Western & European wine and liquor brands have dominated restaurants, bars and clubs? Do rice wines stand a chance in making a breakthrough?


According to Mr C.W How, General Manager of JLC, the company is confident about the market potential and opportunities with the new range. “Joo Lee Chan continues to innovate and deliver quality products — old and new – a true testament of its 100 years’ existence. The company is proud that the 5th generation of family members will soon be managing the premium wine business – a move anticipated to bring a renaissance to rice wine awareness and embracement in Malaysia.

“Malaysians are increasingly exposed to an enhanced social life experience as seen from the mushrooming of watering holes and melting pots in the country. We expect our new rice wines would be a fresh welcome — especially for those who are adventurous and appreciates wines from different countries and cultures and desiring a ‘new taste’ of their drinks . Our new rice wines can enhance recipes whilst creating a whole new spectrum of concoctions to satisfy even the fussiest of palates.

“It’s a good start consumers are already aware of the health benefits of rice wines. Basically, we have given a face lift to the whole JLC image and packaging while staying true to the authenticity of the content. We also extended the functionality and are venturing into a new market with a “traditional beverage but with new visage & usage” positioning. Now we just got to create more education and awareness, and market our products strategically,” enthused How.

According to one of JLC’s key distributors Cave & Cellar, Ms Candy Mah, there seems to be a hike in interest in wines with Asian roots such as rice wines in Malaysia. “We have encouraging feedback from locals as well as foreigners. A lot of expats / tourists are keen on “experimenting Asia” and they would be intrigued by the Asian alcohol which can go up to 50% ABV (alcohol by volume) or more! It’s not for the faint hearted. They get that kick and yet enjoy strong, smooth and unique characteristics in their drinks!

It is sometimes said that because of its clarity, Chinese white wine is the vodka of the east,” said Candy.

As a finished product, rice wine goes under many names like sake and soju, as vendors choose to add local ingredients, and style their own product on the taste of the area. All rice wines however are normally made from either rice or glutinous rice, or both. However, Joo Lee Chan new rice wine series are made of premium polished rice.

JLC’s secret weapon lies in the ‘Hana” rice wine series which are inspired with natural ingredients giving different flavour experiences. There are 6 in the series which comprise the original and others infused with ingredients such as lime, yuzu, coffee, rose and lychee. With alcohol content of 28% and enticing flavours, it will be a blast with mixologists in their new concoction quests.

The other 2 established rice wines introduced today are the classic JLC Mizhu Special (original rice wine) made of Rice and Water which undergoes a sophisticated fermentation and whole distillation process with alcohol content of 39%. The Ginger Rice Wine uses the rice wine as base and infused with pure bentong ginger at the right temperature for certain period of time with alcohol content of 18%.

A gastronomical treat was presented with the serving of a 4–course lunch created with the JLC rice wines and ginger rice wines, paired with the enticing concoctions of “Hana” infused rice wines created by the ingenious mixologists at Hubba Hubba, a chic restaurant at The Sentral.

Hana Ori Rice Wine & Mojito Mint Syrup

Starter Salad “Crispy Golden Scallop”

First, a welcome drink is served with “HANAITO” which is a minty indulgence of Hana Ori Rice Wine & Mojito Mint Syrup. It was delicious to start with. First on the table is the Starter Salad “Crispy Golden Scallop” comprised Pica De Gallo, Grapes, Japanese Cucumber Salad dressed in Ginger Rice Wine, is paired with “Lychee Infusion” – a sweet combination of Hana Lychee Rice Wine, Hana Rose Rice Wine, Lychee Puree, Fresh Watermelon Juice & Crushed Lime Wedges.

The salad was good to kick off the lunch as the scallop was so refreshing and came coated with crisp strips pastry. The salad had a great unique taste as it was lightly spiked with flavoured ginger rice wine. The pairing cocktail was so inviting too, nice lychee flavoured that came so refreshing and juicy with a subtle taste.

Lychee Infusion

Soup comes next with “Spanish Bouillabaisse” Tiger Prawn & Chilean Mussel, cooked with JLC Mizhu Special and paired with “Smoky Yuzu” – a tangy mix of Hana Yuzu Rice Wine, Passion Fruit Puree & Crushed Orange Sliced with Cloves. The Spanish Bouillabaisse was suited for me as it had a fabulous and enjoyable strong flavour of rice wine and the pairing of the cocktail burst with great flavour and definitely easy to drink.

Spanish Bouillabaisse

Spanish Bouillabaisse paired with Smoky Yuzu

The main course is the tantalising “Baked Smoked Chicken” with Vegetable Ratatouille served with Chicken Juice – Cooked with JLC Mizhu Special paired with “Orange Is The New Kick” – a fiery sour mix of Hana Lime Rice Wine, Watermelon Liqueur, Passion Fruit Puree, Watermelon Syrup with Lime and Red Capsicum Juice.

Baked Smoked Chicken paired with Orange Is The New Kick

The baked chicken was prepared well and the present of the rice wine was noticeable and delicious. The paired cocktail Orange Is The New Kick was truly addictive and so simple to drink.

Ginger Panna Cotta paired with Kafe De Choco

Last but not least, desert is “Ginger Panna Cotta” served with Wild Fruit Compote – cooked with JLC Ginger Rice Wine paired with “Kafe De Choco” (A chocolate-coffee sensation of Hana Coffee Rice Wine and mixed with Sugar Syrup, Espresso and Chocolate Syrup). The Ginger Panna Cotta was excellent and the present of the JLC ginger Rice Wine was so noticeable. It was not overly strong in taste but it was just nice. The last cocktail that uses Hana Coffee Rice Wine infused was pretty delicious. My confession, I like the present of the bitterness of the coffee, sweetness and the rice wine. I ended up having an extra one, yes I got a refill. I was very satisfied wit the food and those delicious JLC rice wine cocktails.

The pricing for Joo Lee Chan’s Mizhu Special and Ginger Rice Wines ranges from RM24.99 to RM39.99. They are available at all leading retail outlet such as AEON, Jaya Grocer, Big and Tong Woh PJ.

For more information, please contact Cave & Cellar at (03) 78450670 or email Click for more info.


Joo Lee Chan (裕利棧) has been producing Mizhu (premium rice wine) since 1906. The founder, Ong Eng Suan was a migrant from the Luin May Sieh village in the southern region of the Fujian province of China and brought along with him, the village’s traditional wine-making skills and craftmen to Malaysia.

The rice wine business started in Mantin, a small town in the state of Negeri Sembilan and the business subsequently shifted to the town of Seremban after World War 1 as the business gradually expanded.
The production and distillation processes in Malaysia were no different from those that were practiced in the Luin May Sieh vilage as this was necessary to achieve the quality and aroma of the Mizhu produced.

It was a relatively labour-intensive era as rubber wood was fed into the fire stoves as fuel, filling the clay jugs with distilled fermented rice mash, unloading and stacking raw materials, rubber wood and bottles, and filling, labeling and packing the bottles.

As the rice wine business became more established and relatively substantial, the Malaysian Custom department set up an office in the distillery to monitor and collect excise duties, except during WWII when all taxes were collected by the Japanese during the Japanese Occupation in Malaya between 1942 and 1945. The rice wine business was eventually incorporated in 1958 under the present name of Joo Lee Chan Sdn Bhd (private limited).

The demand for Mizhu continued to grow from the 1960s as consumers began to increasingly enjoy rice wine as a beverage, cooking wine, post-natal confinement food ingredient, Chinese medicinal soaking ingredient and prayer offerings. The demand for rice wine regularly exceeded production and in the 1990s, the lease of the land on which the distillery operated in Seremban, expired and the rice wine business moved to Senawang, an up-and–coming nearby industrial town at the time. The company took the opportunity to set-up and modernize the new distillery with a capacity for doubling production and at the same time, significantly invested in equipment and machinery to ensure that production practices met the Malaysian Environmental laws.

The new distillery has significantly less employees and is more mechanized. Stainless steel kettle, vats, machinery and equipment have replaced the previous long-serving and less efficient production and distillation systems. However, business continues to be tough as the costs of raw materials, fuel, overheads and excise duties are constantly increasing and the environmental laws tightening up but the company maintained its policy of not compromising on the quality of the Mizhu and continued to use the same natural ingredients and distillation methods which continue to today.

Although demand for rice wine remain strong, consumer tastes have gradually been changing and the company is looking to capitalize on these changing trends by introducing into the markets, new and more exciting rice wine based beverages. Several products are currently being developed and the latest one to be launched shortly is the Hana range of rice wines which essentially involve infusion of natural ingredients to give differing and new exciting flavours to the tradition rice wines.

It is the company’s policy to continue with its quality deliverance with each and every product, old or new, as the owners believe this is the main attribute to its 100 year existence. The company is proud to say that the 5th generation of family members will shortly be managing the rice wine bus

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