'Distilling is beautiful. First of all because it is a slow, philosophic, and silent occupation, which keeps you busy but gives you time to think of other things, somewhat like riding a bike. Then, because it involves a metamorphosis from liquid to vapour (invisible), and from this once again to liquid; but in this double journey, up and down, purity is obtained, an ambiguous and fascinating condition, which starts with chemistry and goes very far...
'...And finally, when you set about distilling, you acquire the consciousness of repeating a ritual consecrated by the centuries, almost a religious act, in which from imperfect material you obtain the essence...and in the first place alcohol, which gladdens the spirit and warms the heart'
Primo Levi, The Periodic Table, 1975
X MUSE is the first blended barley vodka distilled in Scotland, a country with centuries of spirit-making tradition. We drew inspiration though from the method, not the myth, the elements, ingredients and the process. And while we have studied the many spirit-making traditions and their roots in alchemy, we are always looking forward, adopting science and technology when they serve our purpose.
Our vodka is based on quiet innovation and a refusal to be bound by accepted wisdoms. We don’t believe that vodka is, by definition, colourless and odourless, a kind of sensory deprivation. It should be a spirit complex in both taste and nose.
This is no small ambition. Creating a vodka that invites sipping and savouring is the spirit-maker’s supreme challenge. It cannot be bolstered by botanicals or aged in oak barrels. It must stand on its own merits. This is the measure of X MUSE.
X MUSE is not rooted in one place or tradition but in a wider pursuit of the essential, of distillation and purification, of a process that pushes toward perfection. We believe that a barley vodka produced in Scotland, that draws on this history and experience, will be a spirit of the richest, deepest character and qualities.
'My 20 years of experience in the spirits industry helps break the rules, push the boundaries of conventions and imagine something radically new. Making a great innovative vodka, especially the one that is also good to sip, is probably one of the most difficult tasks of spirits making craft as in vodka there is not much space to hide.' Vadim Grigoryan, X MUSE co-founder, Artistic and Brand director
Barley is a crop rich in significance and symbolism, a literal life-giver, visibly born and re-born of the sun, moon and earth. Its cultivation and celebration are older than written history. It has been venerated, linked to myths of resurrection and eternal re-birth. In ancient Greece, an ear of barley signified eternal cycle of resurrection after death in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Barley was probably the basis of the first alcoholic drinks enjoyed by Neolithic man and of course barley is central to spirit-making tradition in Scotland. It is Barley that gives the finest whisky its rootedness, its connection to the elements.
X MUSE is the first blended vodka to be produced using barley. And not big agri-business barley but two heritage varieties, Plumage Archer and Marris Otter, grown in the UK and distilled separately. It is this mix of barleys, prized for their flavour rather than their yield, that make X MUSE smooth, rich and complex enough for straight-up sipping as well as the essential component part of cocktails and martinis.
BEAUTY OF WATER
The ancient aquifer at Scotland’s Bonnington Estate, at the heart of Jupiter Artland, is surrounded by the sculptural banks and barrows of the land artist Charles Jencks. Dotted with small, pristine lakes, this is place where water is celebrated, a physical expression of thankfulness.
Most spirits are 60 per cent water yet little consideration is given to the qualities of that water. We understand water carries its history, the charge of rocks and minerals. The water used as the base element of X MUSE is drawn from that aquifer. It is water purified underground and exalted above ground.
'There is energy in all things, in the Earth, in landscape, in nature, in Art, in beauty and in water. The homoeopathic tradition speaks about ‘the memory of water’. Water's ability to carry the energetic fingerprint or essence of matter. The water from the Aquifer at Bonnington Estate is not just pure but is energised. This energised water brings an extra special dimension to the spirit.' Robert Wilson, X MUSE co-founder, CEO
BLENDED VODKA APPROACH
The art of the blend is an essential part of whisky making. X MUSE builds on these blending traditions but applies them in a new way. Our heritage barleys are distilled separately, drawing out their finest qualities. They are then blended to create a new dialogue, a carefully crafted coming together that is greater than the sum of its parts. We then let this blend rest before bottling, allowing the distillates time to commingle and become truly complementary. It is precisely this interplay and communion that makes X MUSE uniquely balanced but complex.
Craft is materials plus process. It’s a simple equation but when carried out with the best ingredients, with knowledge, skills and imagination, it can approach magic.
X MUSE starts with the finest local ingredients, sourced from Scotland and around the UK and ensure the traceability of these ingredients. All our spirits are produced in batches of consistent quality but with subtle differences in organoleptic profile. Nature is not predictable, natural ingredients carry stories of seasonal variety, of sun, wind, rain in uncontrollable measure. X MUSE embraces that variety, it is amplified in distillation and its effects orchestrated by the spirit maker, every batch has a distinct balance of flavours and tones.
Traditional vodka making techniques are an inspiration but not an instruction manual. We have interrogated these traditions and found ways to be creative, innovative and employ contemporary distillation technologies.