Off the top of your mind, how many categories of spirits can you name? After naming the obvious ones like whisky, gin and rum, most start slowing down and wonder what is what.
Where does soju belong to? Is it it’s own category? What about tequila and mezcals? Are they separate categories even though both are made from agave? Why is brandy its own category?
Perhaps bogged down by unnecessary categorical definitions, the founders of Empirical Spirits, two guys who used to work at world-renowned restaurant Noma, have decided to create spirits that are not within the bounds of conventional definition. And we can understand why.
It’s limiting to say that it’s only a gin if juniper is used in the making of the spirit. What if the flavor that juniper imparts isn’t what the distiller wants? Does removing the juniper then make it no longer a gin by definition? Well, yes, it does. What do we call it then? More importantly, when does it all not matter anymore? Isn’t the end-product what matters most?
Breaking free from the chains of semantics is what makes Empirical Spirits special. None of what they distill belongs to an existing category, yet they are unmistakably a spirit in every sense. Some offer botanical and citrus notes, others a rounded woodiness, while the truly bizarre will have you tasting jalapeno without any of the spice.
In fact, the founders think of their products less of spirits, and more as flavor vessels. After all, alcohol are great carriers of flavors and smells, and are not easily prone to spoilage.