Founded in 2017 by Lars Williams – former head of R&D at world famous restaurant Noma – Empirical Spirits has been completely ripping up and re-writing the spirits playbook.
The team have been brewing up their own unique and complex creations from scratch with a mind-blowing attention to detail – and earlier this year they also released their first batch of canned cocktails.
The beauty lies in their one-of-a-kind distilling process, everything being made on-site. Rather than using factory-made ethanol to make their base spirit, they find and embrace far-flung ingredients from all over the world (including Zimbabwean Marula and Brazilian jungle-foraged acai berries).
Firstly, they steam-heat pearl barley in an old butter-churner (obviously!), and then throw in some Japanese koji (a natural mould used to make Miso, Sake and other fermented foods). After fermenting the koji in what is essentially a big sauna, they then ‘brew’ the mixture by adding lager malt and naked barley, to create the pre-beer liquid known as ‘wort’. The sugars created from the fermentation are then eaten by the addition of yeast, which converts them into alcohol.
This is then ‘vacuum distilled’, rather than the traditional boiling method; and by heating at a lower temperature they ensure no flavours they’ve worked so hard to create are lost. The real magic, though, lies in the way they take on average 50 ‘cuts’ from the distillation along the way. Each cut allowing them to dissect the flavour on a more granular level – meaning they can separate and fine-tune the individual components they’re after.
Lars likens the process to the different flavour profiles that you get biting into a full tomato (because who doesn’t love doing that?): You’d get the skin texture first, then the seeds, the pulp, the juice and the underlying ‘greenness’ – allowing them to choose how much to dial up or down each individual element.
Finally they blend these with in-house ingredients like vinegar and kombucha made with leftover botanicals from the first distillation (rather than simply diluting with water) – to create the final product. Their ‘grain to bottle’ distillery is a must-visit for anyone passing through Copenhagen – where you can witness first-hand the passion and craft that goes into their concoctions.
They describe themselves as a ‘Flavour company’, and we couldn’t agree more, and are super excited to be bringing these over for you to try as well. Sitting happily in a self-made drinks category of their own, there’s nothing quite like them out there – exactly what makes them a Rebellious Goods favourite.