Herbaceous, vegetal, earthy, slightly nutty, enticing, beguiling and intriguing - just some of the words that our team have used to describe our newest expression that's gone from farm to bottle in under a week, introducing British Asparagus Vodka! A potentially polarising potable, this expression may not be for everyone, but those that love it, will love it forever.
As some of you may know, asparagus is something of a talisman for us, having been one of the first more esoteric botanicals we included in our tasting and blending experience, The Ginstitute and also the first flavour we chose to explore in our Director's Cut Limited Edition series, which certainly captured the public's attention.
Asparagus in your alcohol is not something that appeals to everybody, but those that do enjoy it seem to do so very much, so it seemed inevitable that the flavour would at some point join the family of vodkas too. Vodka almost seems like a more logical expression of the flavour too, untroubled by the distraction of juniper and coriander, just plain British asparagus, steeped and distilled in our fantastic British Potato Vodka - a truly British combination.
FROM FARM TO BOTTLE IN UNDER A WEEK
Inspired by the short time that asparagus is in season - typically from St George's Day to June - and everyone's favourite young wine, Beaujolais Nouveau, it is our aim each year to get that season's asparagus distilled and into bottle as quickly as we can. This year's slightly warmer start to the year meant that we could get a kick start on the harvest and our asparagus crop arrived earlier, and we distilled this 'vintage' on St George's Day at 186 Portobello Road.
STEP ONE: 21st APRIL 2022
Our Asparagus comes from the Allen family on Portwood Farm, who have been farming in Norfolk for 250 years. And 34 years ago, when Andy Allen returned from Agricultural College to join the family business, he started growing asparagus.
Having travelled extensively to learn as much about the crop as possible from growers around the world, the Allen family cultivate their crop using a combination of the best traditional practices, sustainable methods and technological innovation to ensure that each spear they produce is of the highest quality, flavour and freshness. In fact, the Allen family are such prolific and renowned breeders and growers of asparagus, that there's a European variety, Portlim Asparagus, that's named after the farm! Frankly, we couldn't think of a better partner to produce our first vintage of Asparagus Vodka.
On the 21st April 2022, our asparagus was harvested, and began its journey to 186 Portobello Road
STEP TWO: 23rd APRIL 2022
Once our batch of asparagus arrived at our distillery, it was quickly added to our British Potato Vodka and steeped for 24 hours.
STEP THREE: ST GEORGE'S DAY 2022
On St George's Day, when the steeping was finished, we distilled the mixture in our 400L Copper Pot Still, King Henry, adding just purified water to bottle it at 40% ABV. No filtration, no additives, nothing else - just pure Asparagus (and Potato) Vodka. And then, we bottled it.
Each year, we will be distilling a limited run using that season's asparagus, and once it's gone, you'll just have to wait until the next year to get your hands on another bottle - it's our asparagus vintage!
HOW DOES IT TASTE?
When you give our British Asparagus Vodka a good old sniff, there's no mistaking what it is - right away you're hit with the unique aroma of asparagus, joined by a slight (hazel) nuttiness. If we could imagine smell as a colour, it is distinctly green on the nose.
When you take a sip, again, the flavour of asparagus arrives early and lingers long, with a surprising amount of sweetness. Due to our Potato Vodka's ability to carry both flavour and texture, the liquid seems to coat the inside of the mouth and tickle every inch of your tastebuds.
The sweetness eventually gives way to an earthiness and a nuttiness. The vegetal note also lives long on the palate, without any real sensation of alcohol heat felt in the throat or the palate. Your lasting impression is one of freshness, softness and creaminess.
And the age old question (no, not that one, but the answer is #noitdoesnt) - how do you drink it? Well, our British Asparagus Vodka is suitable to use anywhere where you would generally use a vodka of a gin - now, of course it is not for everyone in its purest state. For those that love it, then our Britney Martini or Asparagus Sour are for you, or for a simpler drink, just mix with soda or tonic. For those that want a drink slightly less asparagus-lead, it livens up a Negroni and transforms a Corpse Reviver Number 2.