Distillation is a purification technique. Our process is entirely unique, so much so that the stills and columns used have been expertley crafted by our master distiller to ensure the purest vodka is produced.
Sugar beet is chopped up and boiled to release the sugars
Yeast and nutrients are added & left to ferment for two to five days.
Using a copper packed reflux column impurities are removed from the base alcohol
Our vodka is so pure it does not require filtration to remove any unwanted substances.
Every bottle of Amos Owens begins life as Sugar beet.
This produces a super smooth, silky vodka with a gentle after taste. Not the sort of experience most have with regular (off the shelf) vodkas made using grain or potatoes.
Vodka literally means little water. It can begin life as pretty much any agrarian source. High carbohydrate cereals, such as wheat and barley are often used. We use sugar beet, for the unique caramel flavour and silky smooth finish.
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The starch is the seed’s store of energy that will allow it to grow before it makes its first leaf. To prep for distillation we need to turn those starches into fermentable sugars, these are sugars that yeast can convert into alcohol.
The first step is to make the starch accessible by chopping up the sugar beet and boiling it to make a solution similar to thin wall paper paste. Next, we have to convert the starch into simple sugars. This is a relatively easy step as starch is little more than molecules of sugar joined together like beads that make up a necklace. We use a range of different enzymes to crack these bonds and release the individual sugar molecules, this allows yeast a surface to work on.
This can be a costly part of the process as often the starch solution needs to be raised to quite a high temperature for the enzymes to work best. Sometimes more than one enzyme is needed and several different temperatures need to be navigated between to allow this step to be completed.
As the enzymes work the bonds between sugar molecules break down leaving a thin runny liquid. A few more tests are conducted to confirm everything is ready before we proceed to the next stage.
We cool our sugar solution to the optimum temperature. Adjust the acidity (if needed) and make sure the oxygen in the liquid is at an ideal concentration. At this stage we add the yeast and nutrients. Sit back and leave to ferment! Two to five days later we are ready to distil.
Commonly, vodka is distilled several times. There is a widespread marketing pitch that this along with lots of filtering achieves purity. But does this generally achieve a great product? In short, no.
To be described as vodka the spirit has to come off the still at 96% alcohol or more.
Often on a large scale the fermented product (wash or mash) might be distilled three/four times in order to meet the 96% threshold. The problem with this route is what lurks in the other 4%. This can often be levels of heads and tails at concentrated levels. This can often impose fire and bitterness on the product and also some off-notes on the nose. Next the product is diluted with water and filtered.
The interesting thing with charcoal filtering is that it is generally non-specific, so it can pull out good things as well as bad and it can also catalyse certain reactions that actually add to the undesirable load. Suffice to say, triple-distilling and then filtering through something to polish up the spirit is commonplace.
We distil once and do not filter.
This produces a smooth, creamy vodka with a subtle taste!
East Anglian sugar beet gives a slightly caramel and cream soda finish to the vodka perfect straight from the freezer. Distilling to 96% in a single distillation represents a significant challenge, both in terms of the style of distilling, the energy that is required, the time it takes and the yield. In short, it's expensive, slow and you don’t get much out, but what you do produce is lovely.
During distillation the water-alcohol vapour given off during heating makes its way up the reflux column. As this happens it comes into contact with surfaces inside the column on which it condenses. The constituent parts of the vapour condense at different temperatures, more and more water is left behind leaving you with a
Our reflux columns we use were designed and built on site by our Master Distiller. They are 4.5m tall, and water cooled at the top. Uniquely they are packed full of hand-cut copper rings.
These rings react with the vapour and actively help to remove sulphides (a by-product of the fermentation process). They also increase the surface area on which water vapour can condense thus increasing the efficiency of the column and the strength of the liquor. Over a 14 hour process the 20% ferment is transformed into a 96% spirit.
The initial spirit created (heads) must be discarded as it contains methanol and other undesirable compounds. The real spirit is known as the heart. The skill in distilling is all down to when you stop discarding the heads and start tapping into the heart of the still, before deciding to cut prior to the tails (the harsh bitter spirit) kicks in. That’s where there is no substitute for experience. Something our master distiller is truly a master at.
Great vodka distilling is all about grabbing subtle aromas and flavours just when the heart starts and making sure that the cut is made before the tails begin. These subtle aromas and flavours that finesse a vodka are difficult to find but well worth seeking out. Rather than trying to eke out every last drop of alcohol from our base, we focus purely on the bits that we want (the heart). Knowing when to begin and end is the key.
The spirit is then diluted with reverse osmosed water and bottled at 40% for our Original. This percentage best presents the desired flavours and aromas, combined with a silky smoothness and a gentle finish. There is no fire. And no burn. For our Cherry Bounce we infuse our Original with natural cherries.
Our approach to vodka production is that it should not take three or four attempts to distil to acceptable standards. If it does, are you not having to work incredibly hard on the spirit? Is this to generate a better vodka or to extract as much as is physically possible? Filtration also follows the same logic: surely if you distil properly then there is no need for filtration?
Quality over quantity. Every time.
That's why you now drink