Manchester’s Ten Locks’ new planet-positive own vodka brand Pod Pea Vodka is made with 100% British peas.
Peas are an incredibly sustainable crop, fixing nitrogen into the soil they grow in, which reduces the need for nitrogen-rich fertilizers and lowers cost in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Pea Pod Vodka is bottled in transition glass, which is glass before it is turned into flint (clear glass). Skipping this step in the processing allows for less waste. Each bottle varies slightly and has little imperfections. Just like peas.
Battersea is being promoted as a viable vodka destination with Braden Saunders Doghouse Distillery’s chilli bacon vodka. His 2018 Baller Vodka claimed to be the first vodka to be made from scratch in London.
Chardonnay vodkas? Marshmallow vodkas? Marmalade-flavoured vodkas? Brussels Sprout vodkas? Tonka? Asparagus?
What have the English done to vodka? They have turned it artisanal, hand-crafted, premium and small batch.
And even made one in honour of a famous property developer, adult magazine publisher and strip club owner.
King of Soho has released new ultra-premium Copacetic Vodka, with co-founder Alex Robson saying:
“Premium vodkas are very much in demand. In the last four years, cocktail consumption has risen by 300% in the UK alone. Half of the top ten most popular cocktails are vodka-based.”
Her co-founder is Howard Raymond, the son of Paul Raymond – the original King Of Soho – who opened his Raymond Revuebar in 1958. The velvet tailoring of the figure on the bottle is a tribute to the area’s fashion heritage, whilst the tail of the fox is suggestive of fun and high spirits as well as being a nod to Soho’s distant hunting history. A book and a trumpet reflect the artistic creativity for which this special urban area of the British capital is renowned.
Kent’s Chapel Down, UK’s leading wine maker, has diversified into spirits with a Pinot Noir Gin as well as a Chardonnay Vodka. Edwards produces a rhubarb as well as a classic potato vodka. Ultra-premium Royal Mash Vodka is made from Royal Jersey potatoes by chef Rachel de Caen and Peter Le Fol du Taillis. John Lilly, the creator and founder of Sussex’s Thunder Vodka, was the bar manager at the famous G-Jays bar in Val d’Isère where his drink became the après-ski chill out.
Dorset has the excellent Shanty Seaweed Vodka with its eye-catching bottle.
Perhaps the most English of modern British vodkas is made with Earl Grey tea. Cambridgeshire’s T.E.A. (Tea Enhanced Alcohol) also makes Jasmine Vodka.
Scotland is represented by “X-Muse”, the first blended barley vodka, Nadar and Black Thistle Pearl.
Cheshire’s “Lingering” Broken Clock Vodka has been created by a relative of the man who invented the first astronomical watch. It also has Tristram Shandy connections having been inspired by a visit to the writer’s home, Shandy Hall in north Yorkshire.
Wales has Penderyn Distillery’s Five. And Ewenique Sheep Whey Vodka made by Bryn Perry, Rebecca Morris and a flock of East Friesian ewes in Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire and the In the Welsh Wind distillery, in Tan-y-Groes.
Owned by Charlie Morgan and Jackson Quinn, Au Vodka may sound French, but it’s based in Swansea although distilled at the RED distillery in Liphook, Surrey and promoted by ambassadors such as Tyson Fury, Ronaldinho, Little Mix and Stommzy. Au refers to the chemical symbol for gold. Bottles are gold-plated.
Eindhoven in the Netherlands boasts perhaps the most unusual and spikiest bottle design for a first-class vodka.
Willem Louers, who began developing the product while studying Technical Business Administration at the Fontys University of Applied Sciences, says:
“The silver chrome details and built in Led makes LOUERS vodka an eye-catcher,”
There are now also the African-inspired VUSA and the India-influenced Desi Daru. The Faroe Islands has Nykur made from volcanic water filtered through twelve layers of 5.5 million year old basalt.
But Poland remains Europe’s top vodka-making country. Its oldest distillery at Lancut (“Wine-Suit”) was founded in 1784 and was revived in 2003 by ex-banker Jan-Romain Potocki to make ultra-premium rye Potocki Vodka which is not charcoal-filtered.
Vodka (from voda, water) has been produced in Poland since the 8th century. Allegedly, it increased fertility and awoke lust. Wyborowa (meaning excellent) dates back to 1823. Luksusowas to 1928. The Polocki recipe goes back to 1816 when County Alfred I Polocku inherited the castle and distillery between Krakow and Lvov.
In 1857, the family became purveyor to the Imperial court in Vienna. It is the most aristocratic of European vodkas.
The brainchild of Tadeusz Dorda, Chopin Vodka was launched in 1993. After purchasing the distillery, which dates back to 1896, the Dorda family embarked on their mission of preserving Poland’s centuries-old vodka making tradition, using one of the oldest stills left in Poland.
Chopin Potato Vodka is a seasonally produced Polish vodka using locally sourced potatoes, grown within 18 miles of the Dorda family’s distillery in Eastern Poland. It is a full-bodied vodka with notes of green apple, citrus and fresh cut grass, carried by a creamy, rich mouthfeel. There is a clean black pepper note on the finish, which fades slowly into notes of hazelnuts and soft lemon peel. Rye vodka is perfect in a Bloody Mary while Chopin Wheat Vodka is the lightest and sweetest vodka in the range, with notes of floral chamomile and honeysuckle alongside sweet butterscotch and honey.
The name vodka is believed to come from the Slavic word meaning little water. According to Russian legend a monk based inside the Kremlin made the first recipe in 1430. Now it’s made on the east coast of Southern England too.
Adnams chief distiller, John McCarthy whose range of vodkas comprises of Longshore, East Coast and Rye Hill Vodka, asks:
“Why not Suffolk vodka?”
“After all, East Anglia is the cereal basket of the UK. Why should good vodka be made just in Russia and Poland?”
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appear worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.