An Essex vodka that England can be proud of. Like the county, the vodka is named after the seax (pronounced ‘say-axe’) a Saxon sword. We start with some of the best locally grown sugar beet, which we ferment and then distil only once in a small copper alembic: single distilled and unfiltered means we keep all the goodness of the signature ingredient. This means a luxurious, smooth and creamy sip, with big notes of vanilla and cream soda.
Best enjoyed neat; with your favourite mixer; or as a base for a sublime espresso martini.
Vodka as it should be.
WHAT MAKES THIS VODKA SPECIAL?
We think this is as good as vodka gets. Made from East Anglian sugar beet, rather than grain or even potatoes: which gives a creamy mouthfeel and flavour notes of cream soda. Distilled from scratch, in small batches, by award winning vodka distillers: who have had more practice than most.
Single distilled, in columns we designed and built ourselves, and unfiltered: an extremely rare way of producing vodka but totally worth it for the end result. In short - a vodka like no other.
Our spirit philosophy of ‘If it burns then there’s something wrong with it’ especially applies to vodka, a spirit that people associate with tasting of fire water with no flavour. Our aim is to revitalise the vodka category: why drink something with no flavour? So we’ve set out to prove that vodka really can taste nice: either neat, mixed or used as a base for distilling another spirit.
Dr John has been distilling vodka since 2011, from a variety of base ingredients, including grain, potato and sweet potato, as well as sugar beet, for ourselves and our contract clients. It’s fair to say he’s had a lot of practice at making it, and according to feedback, practice makes perfect. Renaissance Vodka won the Master accolade at the Global Spirits Masters 2018 in the Ultra Premium category, and Wild Knight Vodka won a gold in the Best British Varietal category of The World Vodka Awards 2020. And of course, our English Toffee and Chocolate Chilli Vodka Liqueurs have been extremely popular for a very long time!
"Great vodka distilling is all about grabbing subtle aromas and flavours just when the heart starts and ends to provide the signature of the origin of your spirit. To misquote All About Eve, it's like trying to hang a brick off a raindrop."
- Dr John Walters,
'The Drinker's Guide to Distilling, Part 1'
Seax is the name for the swords found on the Essex coat of arms. The name of these swords comes from the Saxons, who wielded them over 1,000 years ago: indeed, the name Essex derives from ‘East Seaxe’ or ‘east Saxon kingdom’. So we chose the seax to represent Essex, the county in which we distil our spirits. The label was designed in house by our Spirit Ambassador Rosie Barlow.
We feel that Essex sometimes gets a bad rap from the rest of the country. We’re fiercely proud of Essex, and so we want to demonstrate that it’s one of the finest food producing counties in the UK, and a true foodie hotspot. Essex is widely recognised for its jam making, seafood, vineyards, and lots more. Including world class spirits, of course.
East Anglian sugar beet, refined for us into sugar. East Anglia has historically been the centre of UK sugar beet production, and sugar beet constitutes over 50% of the UK's demand for sugar.
We like to use sugar beet for two reasons. One is that anyone who has driven around the back roads of East Anglia will know that there is absolutely tons of the stuff local to our distillery. The other reason is the properties that it lends to the spirit: creaminess in texture and flavour.
HOW IT'S MADE
We ferment our beet sugar into a low alcohol solution, which is then distilled in one of our reflux column stills to 96% ABV, and then cut back with water to our chosen strength, 42% ABV. We only distil once, and we don’t filter the spirit. To achieve this, John designed and built his own reflux columns to our exact specifications. But why is single distilling and unfiltering so important? And why go to all the bother? Here’s some more background on vodka production to help with the answer.
To call something vodka, it has to reach 96% ABV during distillation, before you cut it back down with water to your desired strength. If the spirit doesn’t get up to 96% then it’s known as moonshine.
The fermented product (wash or mash) might be distilled and then its product distilled again to make a low spirit with increased alcohol, but not enough to call it vodka, necessitating it be distilled a final third time to meet the target 96% or more. The problem with this route is what lurks in the other 4%. This can often be levels of heads and tails at concentrated levels, such that they impose fire and bitterness on the product and also some off-notes on the nose.
Next the product is diluted with water to a point where filtering through carbon (charcoal) works and thus helps to strip out some of the undesirables. The interesting thing with charcoal filtering is that it is generally non-specific, so it can pull out lots of different things and it can also catalyse certain reactions that actually add to the undesirable load. But that is another story. Suffice to say, triple-distilling and then filtering through something to polish up the spirit is commonplace.
Dr John summarises this well:
“I think it is fair to say there are a lot of myths surrounding vodka. One of the big two are the more distillations it undergoes the better the product and the more arduous the filtration method applied to it the better. I have to ask myself, if it takes three to five times to distil a vodka to acceptable standards would your time be better spent not cocking up the first two to four times?
The filtration also follows the same line of thinking: surely if you distil properly then there is no need for filtration? It would then follow that the more filtration you are applying to your finished vodka then the poorer the job of distillation you have done prior to filtration. You can not take a knackered piece of meat and mallet it into the texture and taste profile of a finally matured, well marbled fillet.”
Single distillation is 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, it's not quick, you don’t get much, but what you do produce is lovely: vodka with delightful flavour. Our very small batch size of 200 litres also allows us to make the exact cut to the spirit we want, which ensures the spirit is smooth and without harshness.
A creamy texture with gossamer aromas and flavours of caramel, vanilla and cream soda, in combination with silky smoothness and a gentle finish. Nothing ‘thin’ about this.
The finesse is evident in the mouthfeel and delicacy of the spirit, which provide a great drinking experience: a difference to the flavour ‘punch’ of dark spirits such as rums and malts. Delicate but still full of flavour, super smooth and light on the palate. We do not do fire and harshness and that is what sets us apart from many.
"So in summary, vodka must be super smooth, silky, gentle mouthfeel, creamy finish with delicate notes of flavour and aroma from whence it came. If it tastes of nowt, is slightly metallic on the finish and a toosh fiery, it's not for me."
- Dr John Walters,
'The Drinker's Guide to Distilling, Part 1'
When enjoying Seax Vodka neat, we recommend chilling the vodka and a sipping glass in the fridge.
For a Seax Vodka martini, add Seax Vodka to a chilled martini glass, and add a torn bay leaf: vermouth not necessary. You can add a drop of light aromatic bitters too for an extra bit of flavour.
Needless to say that this vodka also works as a quintessential ingredient in any cocktail. Smooth, flavoursome and three dimensional, the perfect vodka for an espresso martini.