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The History of Liquor Trademarks

The monopoly system implemented in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period annexed alcohol as a monopoly product in 1922 (Taisho era, 11th year) and then beer in 1933 (Showa era, 8th year).

There was a division in the Bureau in charge of liquors and there were wineries set up in Shulin, Taichung, Douliu, Chiayi, Fongyuan, Puli, Tainan, Qishan, Hengchun, and Yilan. 

During the Japanese colonial period, alcohol sales were mostly rice wine, cane spirit, red wine, and sake. Afterwards, the list continued to grow to include grape wine, whiskey, etc. Also, the Takasago beer produced in Taiwan at that time was quite well-known. 

Not long after Taiwan’s restoration, the National Government moved to Taiwan, and the state monopoly business of tobacco and alcohol bore the country’s financial burden. It was in the 1950s that the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau successively purchased equipment for alcohol production and managed to develop Shaohsing wine, yellow wine, Kaoliang spirit (sorghum liquor), cider, and many other new products. 

In 1970, with rapid economic growth, there was such an increasing demand for liquor that the Bureau had a hard time keeping up with the market. The Bureau proposed a “Tobacco and Alcohol Production Increase Plan” in 1980, with a planned investment of NT$30.8 billion, but eventually exceeded NT$40 billion in actuality. In the next decade or so, the gross value from the sales of tobacco and alcohol increased from NT$46.5 billion in 1980 to NT$91.1 billion in 1992, a remarkable result! However, as the government continued to open the market to the free import of foreign tobacco and alcohol, the competition placed so much pressure on the Bureau that it was not until the administration was re-structured into a private company that the industries of tobacco and alcohol were ushered into a whole new era. 

The variety of alcohol produced by the Bureau was divided into five categories: beer, fermented liquor, cider, distilled liquor, and processed liquor. Beer is the best-selling, especially Taiwan beer, which has been continuously improved over time, making it a primary revenue for the Bureau. 

Fermented liquors include the Shaohsing series in the 1950s, such as Champion Red, Wong Dii, Hua Tiau Chiew, Hungluh Chiew, sake, etc., or the cider series, such as white wine, red wine, rose wine, plum wine, lychee wine, and others. 

As for distilled liquors, the most important one is rice wine, which can be used as a drink or for flavor in cooking. In the early days of Japanese occupation, almost every household brewed rice wine at home. In the 1930s, the Monopoly Bureau developed a technique for mass production of rice wine by significantly improving the fermentation rate and thus reducing the cost. 

Rice wine has therefore become an indispensable seasoning and a daily necessity. Before and after becoming a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), due to the fear of increasing the price of rice wine, the public was in a frenzy to hoard rice wine, which made the headlines and became the focus of social discussion and media attention. 

Processed liquors involve adding different herbs to turn alcohol into a medicinal drink for nourishment. The most common processed liquors, often seen at street food stands, are Ng Ka Py liquor and Seng Rong liquor, both continuing to be the Bureau’s prominent brand products. 

In addition to the wineries in Taipei, Jianguo, Banqiao, Shulin, Taichung, Chiayi, Pingtung, Hualien, Yilan, Puli, Longtian, Zhongxing, Chengkung, Nantou, etc., for liquor production, there were also factories for designing, printing, and packaging, as well as manufacturers of bottles and caps. 

Since the 1980s, all liquor labels have been printed with the warning “Don’t drink and drive for your own safety” to remind the public to pay more attention to safety under the influence, that only then can one really enjoy the drink and return home safely.