Two former Noma chefs who launch themselves into high-flying distillation, that's the story of Empirical Spirits in two words. Ancestral techniques borrowed from sake, mixed with ultra-modern practices gleaned from their years in the kitchen, for a surprising and explosive result...
During his years behind the stove at Noma, Copenhagen, Lars Williams worked hard to develop fermentation techniques, and their use in cooking. In 2017, he and his former colleague, Mark Emil Hermansen, joined forces to form Empirical Spirits. Driven by a boundless curiosity, they seek to always push the possibilities of taste, this time applying themselves to distillation.
The techniques they use balance between century-old traditions and the latest technologies, in order to extract the very essence of the ingredients used, with gentleness and delicacy. Habanero, quince, smoked juniper, kombucha... the only limit? Their imagination.
The base distillate is obtained from barley, inoculated with koji spores, a kind of ferment found in Japanese preparations like miso or shoyu. This koji ferments the barley, giving it sweet and floral notes, and then the whole is brewed with different malted cereals and Belgian saison yeasts, all fermenting gently, which further develops the flavors and aromatic potential of the brew.
The distillation stage is crucial, taking place under vacuum, it takes place between 5 and 30 degrees Celsius, a much lower temperature than in a classic process, preserving the original aromas and freshness of the ingredients. The result is then separated into nearly 50 different "batches" for a 500-liter distillation, each one according to its specificities and particularities and then gathered for a better balance.
Finally, for the blends, Lars and Mark use a number of vinegars or kombucha, to always maximise the flavors and complexity of the final result. Empirical's spirits are of a rare purity, expressive, deep and rich in flavors, yet unexpectedly fresh. Drink them neat or in cocktails, according to your imagination, or your habits, in one form or another...
The names of the different Empirical spirits are all quite evocative, Fallen Pony, Helena, The Plum I suppose... but there is one that stands out, the now famous Fuck Trump and his Stupid Fucking Wall.
Based on habanero peppers from Mexico, whose pungent elements disappear during distillation, leaving only the fruity aromas of habanero. The name itself does not miss piquant and leaves nobody indifferent. A message hardly political...