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Give peas a chance

Introducing the pea-based vodka that’s shaking up the sustainable spirits sector
A bottle of Pod Pea Vodka on a bed of peas

This article first appeared in our Earth Day 2023 issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published on 22 April 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox

‘There’s a reason vodka is the world’s biggest spirit – you can make it from pretty much anything!’, reveals Becky Davies, creator of Pod Pea Vodka and director at purpose-led drinks firm Ten Locks. ‘But good vodka made in a sustainable way, that tastes great? It’s not easy. Trust me, I know.’

Pod Pea Vodka was released to the public last month (March ’23), after three years of trials and ‘some serious experimentation’.

‘Believe it or not, it’s very difficult to make vodka with peas due to their relative lack of sugar’, Becky tells us. ‘Peas are also surprisingly volatile; we turn them into pea flour which, it turns out, is highly explosive! In fact, a couple of times there was a genuine concern we would create an explosion at our partner distillery in Manchester.’

The hard work paid off and Becky has fulfilled her mission to reinvigorate an underappreciated spirit that has been sidelined in recent years due to its neutrality. ‘We’ve led with natural flavour using local ingredients to create something truly interesting’, she tells us. ‘Pod is made with peas and tastes like peas – it’s that simple.’

What’s so great about peas?

Peas are an incredibly sustainable crop; they ‘fix’ nitrogen into the soil they grow in, which reduces the need for nitrogen-rich fertilisers, and have minimal embodied food miles because they grow all over the UK.

‘We wanted to prioritise local ingredients and flavour’, Becky explains, ‘and are proud to showcase a tasty and 100% British crop – from Somerleyton Farm in Suffolk – in a spirit made as kindly as possible.’

As well as being great for the planet, peas – the UK’s national vegetable – are quintessentially British. They also happen to be delicious – an important factor for any drinks enthusiast.

When making Pod Pea Vodka, Becky wanted to impart as much pea flavour as possible to capture the sweet, green, vegetal and grassy notes that sit so beautifully at the heart of cocktails.

‘Pod Pea Vodka is all about the flavour – it’s the very thing we’ve worked so hard to perfect’, Becky explains. While most vodkas are distilled multiple times, Pod Pea Vodka distils to 96% to make the spirit, but only the once to retain the flavour.

‘By doing this we were able to capture the flavour of peas and stay true to our principle of doing things as naturally as possible, while also minimising energy use’, Becky explains.

How to enjoy pea vodka

Pod Pea Vodka has a touch of citrus, light savoury tones and a silky finish. It’s the natural star of lively conversation – and, in some cases, debate.

Those who like vodka will enjoy a fresh take on this popular spirit, while those who favour gin, and have been experimenting with so many different varieties over the last few years, will embrace it for its sense of adventure.

It’ll entice and excite the more serious home cocktail creators, too, as it has been developed by a team with bar expertise.

‘We’re not ones to shy away from experimentation, but we’re a fan of letting the spirit sing’, Becky explains. ‘Start with the Easy Pea-sy by filling a Collins glass with ice, 50ml Pod Pea Vodka, soda water and a sugar snap pea garnish. Simple, but striking and delicious.’

A climate-positive spirit

People, planet and purpose sit at the heart of Pod Pea Vodka, and this thinking helped shape how the base ingredient was selected.

The delicious pea was chosen for its flavour characteristics, but also because it’s a sustainable, plentiful crop that grows right here in the UK.

‘Because we only use British peas, and Pod Pea Vodka is fermented, distilled and bottled in Manchester, our use of transport is minimal, as is our carbon footprint’, Becky reveals.

Even Pod Pea Vodka’s bottles reflect a motivation to make a positive difference in the sector; the bottles are made from transition glass, saving energy and emissions by skipping the stage in the processing that turns glass into flint (clear glass). ‘That’s why each bottle varies slightly and has little imperfections’, Becky explains – ‘just like peas!’

The labels are printed on wood-free, FSC-certified paper, with no plastics or foils, and the team is currently exploring ways to make the cork 100% compostable.

‘We’re proud to start the brand’s life in such a positive position on the sustainability front’, Becky tells us. ‘While we recognise the carbon intensive elements of creating a vodka, we’re always looking for new ways to reduce our carbon – like perhaps creating human-grade protein powder from the pea protein that’s left behind after distillation!’

Since 2020 the team at Ten Locks has been working hard to source incredible sustainable spirits from all over the world and bring them to the UK.

‘We now have 16 brands in our portfolio, but Pod Pea Vodka has been a labour of love the whole time’, Becky says. ‘It’s our very first own spirit launch so it’s super special. Will we make another pea spirit? It’s too soon to say – watch this space!’

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