Putting the booze into Boudica – Nostrovia a la Norfolk
Norfolk entrepreneurs Matt and Steph Brown have launched a home-grown vodka distilled from local barley for launch into UK and export markets.
Wild Knight English Vodka can be said to embody a true warrior spirit – with inspiration drawn from the drinking habits of Boudica’s Iceni tribe in East Anglia and the quaffing quirks of Mongolians!
The seeds of the venture were sown in 2010 when Matt travelled to Mongolia as best man at his brother's wedding. Matt says: “Vodka plays a central role in Mongolian daily social life and the traditional wedding day started by sharing a bowl of vodka which was even included as part of the ceremony itself, where all the guests (of all ages) shared the drink!
“They had to pace themselves but we're pleased to report that they did Blighty proud in the England v Mongolia international vodka 'enjoyment' competition.”
The Browns began looking into making their own vodka in 2014 but knew they would need an expert to help to make it. They sought the expertise of a hugely experienced artisan distiller who produces the brew.
Steph adds: “We wanted to avoid flavoured vodkas, instead focusing on creating a product that is the very best and purest that could be made – aimed at people who seek a drink to savour, not guzzle.
“And the name? We wanted to encapsulate a spirit of adventure and the heritage of England. Wild Knight sums up all the fun, enjoyment and traditional English spirit that we wished from our vodka.”
The barley at the core of the vodka is the product of summer sunshine in the Norfolk countryside in Great Bircham.
Matt Brown adds: “Authenticity and the highest quality are crucial to us. We chose barley as the base for our vodka partly because it grows in the fields all around us. It has been grown commercially here for over 500 years and the Iceni were brewing from wild barley when the Romans arrived.
“The light sandy soils over chalk and local maritime microclimate are ideal for creating the highest quality barley. The world's finest beers and whiskies use Norfolk barley, so it was a natural choice for us – not just because it's local, but because it's also the best we can use for our vodka.”
Precision during the distillation process is crucial to creating a vodka that is smooth on the palette and does not burn. As the vodka warms up during distillation, only the purest heart of the vodka is retained for bottling.
“This ensures that all the headache-inducing elements and harsh flavours are eliminated from our vodka, without the need for further filtration - essential if you love to enjoy it as much as we do.”