Pea vodka launches to ‘reinvigorate’ category
Spirits distributor Ten Locks has unveiled its first own vodka brand, made with 100% British peas: Pod Pea Vodka.Inspired by nature, the ‘planet positive’ Pod Pea Vodka rests at 40% ABV, and has been designed to sit at the heart of classic serves and savoury, umami-led drinks. Speaking to The Spirits Business, Becky Davies, head of commercial at Ten Locks, explained: “People, planet and purpose sit at the heart of Pod Pea Vodka, and this thinking helped shape how we chose our primary ingredient – the pea. “It was chosen for its flavour characteristics, but also for the fact that peas are quintessentially British, growing plentifully right here in the UK." Pod Pea Vodka is fermented, distilled once “to retain the flavour”, and bottled at Ten Locks' partner distillery in Manchester. Sustainability-led The company has taken a sustainable approach to all elements of the production process, with the climate positive messaging at the core. “Peas are an incredibly sustainable crop,” Davies continued. “They ‘fix’ nitrogen into the soil they grow in, which reduces the need for nitrogen-rich fertilisers, and present a much lower cost in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. “Pod Pea Vodka was created with the guiding principle to source everything – where humanly possible – locally, which cuts emissions typically generated from bringing ingredients and materials together.” The vodka is bottled in vessels made from transition glass, which is glass before it is turned into flint (clear glass). Skipping this step in the processing allows for less waste. Each bottle therefore varies slightly and has little imperfections ‘just like peas’. Davies explained that the labels are printed on wood-free, FSC-certified paper, with no plastics and foils, and the team are currently exploring ways to make the cork 100% compostable. The product is stored and then distributed directly from the warehouse, minimising transport, and the company’s overall carbon footprint. She confirmed the company has not completed its full carbon lifecycle assessment of Pod Pea Vodka, but it is “proud to start the brand’s life in such a positive position”, and hopes the climate positive message of the brand offers reassurance that the production of Pod Pea Vodka recognises and addresses many of the carbon intensive elements of typical vodka production. Production challenges Davies noted that the production process for the vodka was not as straight forward as it would appear, and the company came up against some challenges with the research and development of the product: “Believe it or not, peas are very difficult to make vodka with. "After three years of trial and experimentation, trust us, we know. Because of the sheer volume of peas we use, we turn them into pea flour which is incredibly volatile. In fact, a couple of times there was a genuine concern we would create an explosion on our distilling site at Kingsland. “Contrary to popular belief, there is not a lot of sugar in peas, so fermentation was a challenge and the full process takes seven weeks. “We found out about peas on our journey was that they can be a little one dimensional on the flavour front as an ingredient. So, to ensure we had complexity, depth, and real interest on the palate, we’ve added more botanicals such as sea kelp and asparagus. The result is the Pod you can taste today.” Reinvigorating the vodka category With sweet, vegetal pea notes and a touch of citrus, alongside light savoury tones and a 'silky' finish, Pod Pea Vodka intends to ‘reinvigorate the vodka category’ by offering a flavour-forward spirit. Davies explained: “Classic vodka-based serves will forever have a place on drinks menus, but new and innovative brands disrupting the market and driving niche pockets of the category are helping it to thrive. They’re recruiting consumers from gin at a moment of fatigue, holding the attention of established vodka drinkers and attracting established cocktail lovers and people seeking something new. “For consumers looking for the ‘what next’ after gin, dark spirits aren’t a natural Segway,” she continued. “It presents an opportunity for vodka to win, especially flavour-forward vodkas that can transform how the category is viewed. “There’s a whole tranche of more seasoned white spirit drinkers out there who are looking for their next drink who formerly enjoyed gin. They’re thirsty for new experiences, so there’s opportunity for truly innovative flavourful vodkas here too.” Despite innovation in the category, Davies believes that there is a long way to go in changing consumer perception of vodka, however she suspects that Pod Pea will bring new consumers to the category who are “a little more adventurous with their drink choices”. However she noted that the spirits trade is “switched on” to the opportunity for innovation and perception: “Our experience so far is that they’re curious and open to try brands and new spirits that can reinvigorate vodka,” she said. Pod Pea Vodka is recommended served in a Petit Pois Fizz, made with 50ml Pod Pea Vodka, 10ml St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur, topped with sparkling wine; or in a Pickle Pea Martini using 50ml Pod Pea Vodka, 20ml pickle juice and two dashes of fennel bitters. At the beginning of this year, we unveiled our top innovative spirits launches of 2022.