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Empirical Spirits Ayuuk Blend (500ml)

Copenhagen, DENMARK
$94. 99 Bottle
$1139.88 Dozen
ABV: 43%
Self described as a “flavour company”, Copenhagen based 'Empirical Spirits' don’t do vodka, gin, whisky or tequila. Instead, Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen approach making spirits from the mindset of a chef or perfumer. Not surprisingly, their range not only makes use of exotic ingredients, but the resulting spirits defy traditional classifications.

David Matthews writing for Gourmet Traveler explains, "Where traditional distillers might use a single grain with a generic yeast, Empirical Spirits start with a blend. They inoculate it with koji, then run a second fermentation with yeast, perhaps a bespoke Belgian saison. Techniques such as vacuum distillation (the method of distilling liquids under reduced pressure) help with flavour retention, and, depending on the product, they might dilute the alcohol with distilled vinegar or kombucha instead of water, in the same way a chef might add stock to a sauce to build layers of complexity."

Empirical Spirits 'Ayuuk' is made from one of the most prized smoke-dried chillies, Pasilla Mixe, from the Sierra Norte, a mountainous region in Oaxaca, Mexico. The chilli is fully ripened and partially dried on the plant, then finished on wicker racks over gnarled hardwood smoke.

Lars Williams adds, "We looked into a number of different suppliers, but couldn’t find chilis of the same quality as the ones we found in that market. There are a couple of other smoked chilis out there, but to me, Pasilla Mixe is the most interesting and complex. There is so much more than just smokiness: there is an earthy roundness and a distinct, deep red orchard fruit note that distinguishes it from all the others. It also has a palatable spice that allows you to truly taste it, and not just be blown away by heat."

The base spirit for Ayuuk employs pilsner malt, purple wheat, Belgian Saison yeast and uses Pasilla Mixe as the botanical. After resting in Oloroso Sherry Casks for twenty one days, the blend is finally bottled at 43% Alc./vol. It's recommended mixed with ginger ale.