Founded by former Noma employees Lars Williams and Mark Emil Hermansen in 2017, Empirical started as a distillery with a mission to push the boundaries of flavour innovation, and in doing so, combine traditions, ingredients and techniques from around the world.
Guided by a curiosity and passion for the sensory realm of taste and smell, the Copenhagen based company have already gained recognition for their unique and exciting drinks, which include spirits and canned cocktails.
The brand have used their experience in high-level gastronomy, and technical know-how in the fields of fermentation, distillation and brewing for further forays into flavour - with a deep understanding of its intricate nuances and possibilities, and the ways in which different elements work together, they have brought their expertise to the kitchen and launched a range of cooking ingredients.
Keeping a superior set of condiments to hand is the smart way to ensure a ready repertoire of delicious dishes - the addition of Empirical sauces and paste adds a complexity and balance to anything you rustle up, and effortlessly elevates your culinary style.
Led by Head of Provisions, Eric Heilig, the Empirical team have selected elements from their distinctive flavour portfolio, and also taken ingredients from Empirical’s own spirits blends; particularly the brewer’s grains, which are fermented for several months to create koji, which is an important factor in the Empirical taste adventure.
Koji is a fermentation culture made from a base of cooked grains, such as rice or barley - a foundation stone in Japanese cuisine, it is used to brew alcoholic beverages such as sake, and condiments, including miso and soy sauce.
The koji flavours are complex, unique and somewhat hard to define; they fall into the realm of ‘umami’, which may be translated from the Japanese as ‘pleasant savory taste’, and is sometimes referred to as the ‘fifth taste’ (the first four being sweet, sour, salty and bitter). Empirical offer a range of umami laden provisions that add depth and sophistication to a fantastic variety of dishes, and are designed to be used as either a condiment or a cooking ingredient.
Elixir 01 is a Scandinavian take on traditional Japanese Shoyu - made with raw grey French marine salt, it has a light oceanic mineral quality; Elixir 02 is rich and earthy, with a base of Lapsang Souchong tea.
Pasilla Sauce, a smoky and exotic concoction based on Mexican Pasilla Mixe chillies, is punchy, but with a focus on complexity and flavour rather than simply heat, and Tasty Paste is miso- like, though much less salty than traditional miso, and fermented for 18 months to develop a chocolaty and intensely savoury flavour.
As co-founder Lars Williams says: ‘We see flavour as a way of connecting people from around the world. Spirits and CANs were the first steps in sharing flavour, and now we are expanding that connectivity with our Provisions line. Building on decades of experience in kitchens and countless fermentation trials, the Provisions simply make anything you cook delicious.’
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Melina Keays is the entertaining director of Wallpaper*. She has been part of the brand since the magazine’s launch in 1996, and is responsible for entertaining content across the print and digital platforms, and for Wallpaper’s creative agency Bespoke. A native Londoner, Melina takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of art and design – including film, literature, and fashion. Her work for the brand involves curating content, writing, and creative direction – conceiving luxury interior landscapes with a focus on food, drinks, and entertaining in all its forms
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