Hollywood movie director declares: "East Anglian sugar beet is the best in the world."
PUBLISHED: 11:37 18 January 2020 | UPDATED: 13:19 20 January 2020
A film director who's worked with stars like Samuel L Jackson has chosen to use the region's sugar beet to make a new kind of vodka.
Vadim Jean, who directed the award-winning Leon the Pig Farmer, and who's worked with the likes of Gerard Butler, Tom Hardy and Ewan McGregor, is a boss of Renaissance Vodka. Rather than using the usual ingredient of potatoes or rye, he's adding locally-grown sugar beet -
currently from near Bury St Edmunds but is hoping to team up with a Norfolk farmer soon.
"East Anglian sugar beet is the best in the world and there's a surplus in the region. It's our point of difference."
The vodka is currently made in Cambridgeshire and it was the firm's chief distiller who decided it would taste better using sugar beet. And with the firm just signing a partnership deal to provide vodka to Norwich City football club, Mr Jean is looking for a sugar beet farmer in Norfolk.
"We are an artisan producer, only small at the moment but people want to buy local and it tastes so good, much better than Smirnoff which tastes disgusting, in my opinion."
As well as using sugar beet, Renaissance's other USP is that they create it from one distillation whereas other brands use several.
They've just brought out a rose variety, flavoured by rose petals picked in Cambridgeshire and Mr Jean himself waxes the bottles closed by hand with a special seal. The labels are based on hand drawn images by someone in the movie graphics world.
Renaissance makes 700 bottles in every batch over three months and are getting it in more local outlets. For Mr Jean, 56, who lives in London, the business marks a new direction. He's got an impressive CV that includes movies like Scenes of A Sexual Nature with Ewan Mcgregor and The Man Who Invented Christmas with Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer. His best friend is Gerard Butler, star of films like P.S I Love You and the current Angel Has Fallen. "He read a Robbie Burns poem at my wedding, we're great mates." He also worked with Samuel L Jackson, star of films like Pulp Fiction.
"He's the coolest man on the planet. He had three hours to do a voice-over and he did it in an hour."
Mr Jean got into Renaissance Vodka after initially making a film about it. "They invited me to try it and it just tasted so good."