Class of 2021
35 / Copenhagen, Denmark
The social anthropologist unlocking new flavour in cocktails
Shaking up the global cocktail industry with a fresh look at spirit production is Mark Emil Hermansen and the company he launched with Lars Williams, Empirical. The gin- and whisky-making process is steeped in heritage, structure and ritual. These two young producers ask: why?
Describing itself as a ‘flavour company’, Empirical uses ultra-advanced technique to achieve new dimensions of taste. Through processes such as double fermentation and low-temperature vacuum distillation (as low as 9C), they are able to unlock unprecedented flavour profiles. They call their creations ‘freeform spirits’ and use unique and endemic species of flora, spice, grains, yeasts and herbs to create distillates and tinctures that challenge the strict traditions of the drinks sector.
A quick look at Empirical’s latest product lines reveals their irreverence: Fuck Trump and His Stupid Fucking Wall is a funky habanero spirit, while The Plum, I Suppose, is a unique serve made with plum kernel and marigold flowers. During the first lockdown in March 2020, they pivoted to produce ready-to-drink cocktails with some of the world’s best bars, donating profits to support the bars’ teams and their chosen charities. A knock-on effect of their rigorous and robust sourcing principles sees scores of indigenous producers all over the world benefit from direct-sale crop production.
“At Empirical we take a flavour-first approach, and that often leads us in directions where positive social and environmental impact are intrinsic to the success of the product.” – Mark Emil Hermansen
Images: Polina, Dashti Jahfar