Those familiar with Nicky and Robert Wilson’s Jupiter Artland, home of unique commissioned works by Anish Kapoor, Anthony Gormley, Jim Lambie and Tracey Emin, may recall the stunning Charles Jencks artwork Cells of Life.
It’s a swooping landscape of smooth ledges and undulating hills, curving toward glistening, reflective lakes. But this ambitious and pristine artwork contains a secret at its heart: it was built around an ancient aquifer whose unique arrangement of permeable geologic formations of rock acts as a filtering system for the water beneath.
It was this natural windfall that first inspired former Pernod Ricard Director Vadim Grigoryan and Robert Wilson to think about a fresh approach to creating vodka. Considering that sixty percent of most spirits consist of water, it’s strange that the quality and taste profile of the main bulk of the bottle is usually ignored. Water is water, right?
Wrong. Since the rocks and minerals that have been sculpting this liquid across the centuries are unique to the geography and landscape, so too is the water they have birthed. In their hunt for a special new approach which reflected the ethos of Jupiter Artland, Robert and Vadim decided to follow its lead and create a completely unique spirit: as X MUSE Co-founder, Artistic and Brand Director, Vadim comments,
‘We look at spirits as cultural products deeply rooted in human history. X MUSE’s creation is informed by this history and our understanding of the meaning of spirits.’
Built from novel raw materials, X MUSE is the first Scottish vodka distilled from barley (The ‘X’ is a roman numeral, pronounced ‘tenth’). Vadim has sourced two heritage varieties: Plumage Archer for flint and grassines, and Maris Otter which brings hints of apples. Both are UK varieties, prized for flavour. Each is distilled separately to present those sparkling flavours, then blended to create a unique drink which is delicate, light and bounding with flavour.
So, while most brand vodka makers do all they can to drive flavour out of their drinks (thereby taking the flavour of the mixer onboard) X MUSE ploughs a completely divergent course. On the nose it has hints of apple pie and pear drops, while the palate picks up baked apples, honey and ginger. Its natural zest makes it perfect to sip neat, as an aperitif, or to mix into a Martini with dry vermouth.
On the creation of X MUSE, CEO and Co-founder Robert Wilson says,
‘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 available from the outlets listed below, but there’s a more artistic and stylish way to appreciate its unique flavours. Try visiting the X MUSE Temple and tasting workshop, which has newly opened on the Jupiter Artland grounds.
The Temple is a striking glass dome designed by renowned Milan-based studio Formafantasma (designers of the Central Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale) and designed to be the ultimate, bespoke experience. A £20 ticket includes three X MUSE samples, a Signature Martini and the X MUSE creative bite – yuzu salmon tartlette created by chef Carlo Scotto. This price also includes entry to Jupiter Artland, in the grounds of Bonnington House, just outside Edinburgh, so it can easily become a full day out.
The X MUSE Temple tasting workshop is open until October and bookable through the Jupiter Artland website, open Thursdays to Sundays, 11am – 4:30pm until 30th September. Entry £20 (includes entry to Jupiter Artland). The Temple tasting experience can also be privately booked out for groups of up to 15 people.
X MUSE is available from www.xmusevodka.com/and from these outlets: Amazon, Amarthus, Hedonism, Petersham Cellar, Selfridges, Master of Malt, The Whisky Exchange. X MUSE cocktails are available from Gleneagles Townhouse, The Fife Arms, and Nightcap.
With thanks to Malcolm McGonigle for this feature.