So gin's hot right now, yeah? Pretty hot, for sure...and mezcal? That's everywhere these days... and we keep reading about how this year is going to be the year baijiu breaks through in the West... and what about all the bars making their own distillates? What a world we live in where you can get distilled feta vodka at that trendy new place in Bethnal Green.
But what if you want to go one further? What if you want a bottle of something really wild? Like a spirit made from dried, fermented, and smoked skipjack tuna? Well you call Lars Williams of Empirical Spirits, of course.
Williams, a chef with a seriously impressive CV (including both Fat Duck and Noma) was the head of the Nordic Food Lab before one day deciding to turn his hand to distilling. He approached the process with the air of a disgruntled chef, explaining that while dinner is a “theatrical, brief moment where people can explore what we’re doing, spirits offer a more transferable opportunity. They allow us to share concepts, ideas, times and places, such as: ‘this is my idea of walking in woods. This is my idea of the seaside’”.
He also came with questions. Why do producers use the cheapest and fastest processes? Why aren’t spirits seasonal, or subject to vintages? Why would you base any spirit on a disgusting, largely undrinkable sour beer?