Strike gold in Norwich with new caramel vodka made with local ingredients

Norfolk barley, Nelson's Gold and the distillery where Wild Knight is made. Photos: contributed

Norfolk barley, Nelson's Gold and the distillery where Wild Knight is made. Photos: contributed - Credit: Archant

There's a luscious new spirit being made from Norfolk grain and sugar.

Wild Knight Vodka founders Matt and Steph Brown. Photo: contributed.

Wild Knight Vodka founders Matt and Steph Brown. Photo: contributed. - Credit: Archant

Remember when it was the done thing to serve towering chopped salads crammed with prawns and avocado? When cheese and pineapple on sticks was really rather fancy? When dessert was a neon-coloured blancmange?

Thankfully those days are gone – but the food world still has its fashions.

Perhaps the most key flavour and ingredient to have created a buzz in the last five years is caramel – more to the point, salted caramel.

The phenomenon has its roots in Brittany, where buttered, salted caramels, spiked with fleur de Guerande, have been adored for generations.

We don't see this trend waning any time soon – it's much too delicious.

One local business that's recently hopped onto the caramel train is Wild Knight, which will launch a decadent new premium vodka, Nelson's Gold, at The Maid's Head in Norwich on Monday, March 20.

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Boasting truly local ingredients, and a rather brilliant back story, the spirit is the brainchild of Matt and Steph Brown, who've caused quite a stir on the scene already with their original Wild Knight Vodka.

Made in small batches using Norfolk-grown barley, it's become a mixer of choice in top bars and restaurants across the county.

Nelson's Gold takes the smooth, eminently sippable qualities of the original vodka up a notch with the addition of caramelised Norfolk sugar beet, for a flavour that Steph says is incomparable to the many other caramel vodkas on the market.

Nelson's Golden Apple Cocktail. Photo: contributed.

Nelson's Golden Apple Cocktail. Photo: contributed. - Credit: Archant

But let's go back to the start.

Steph and Matt, who both have backgrounds in marketing and design, created a non-alcoholic drink in 2010.

While booze-free alternatives to wine, beer and cocktails are all the rage nowadays, only seven years ago Steph says customers didn't really get it.Roll forward and it was during a rather exotic trip that the seed for Wild Knight was planted.

'Matt went away to Mongolia because my brother-in-law was getting married to a Mongolian lady,' says Steph. 'In Mongolia they drink a lot of vodka and he came back and said, 'I tell you what Steph, why don't we make vodka instead?'

'Wild Knight was born from that idea. We wanted to be different. To make the best vodka that could be made. We went right back to barley – Norfolk barley.

It's really smooth and pure and people love it. It's a completely different flavour from vodka made using potatoes. Much smoother.

We tried different ingredients and barley really was the best. It was a no-brainer.

'More recently we thought, what can the next extension be? How about adding caramelised Norfolk sugar beet? And so Nelson's Gold was born.

There are loads of flavoured vodkas around but Nelson's Gold is much more a sipping vodka. It's to be savoured rather than knocked back. The Maid's Head is making cocktails for our launch, including a combination of Nelson's Gold and apple, but we really enjoy it just with an ice cube.'

When it came to branding their drinks, Matt and Steph wanted to connect the vodkas to Britain.

Wild Knight relates to both the knights of the realm of old, and to 'wild nights'. But they dug a little deeper to christen their caramel vodka.

Nelson's Gold is named after the original ship, HMS Victory, which was the inspiration for Nelson's Victory. On a stormy eve in 1744, while travelling through the English Channel, the ship was wrecked, taking down 1,100 souls on board, along with around one billion pounds worth of gold in today's money.

'We thought what a great name it would be,' says Steph. 'I'm chuffed we could get it and with him being a very local man, that was perfect. We're also excited that The Maid's Head is apparently where Nelson had his first alcoholic drink when he used to board in Norwich 250 years ago.'

You can sample Nelson's Gold at The Maid's Head, and it will be stocked by delis, food shops and bars in Norwich and wider Norfolk after the launch.

You can also buy it in Jarrolds in Norwich, or via Nelson's Gold website. Steph and Matt are aiming big though, so don't be surprised if you see Wild Knight and Nelson's Gold on your travels across the UK or worldwide in the near future.

'We want to export and having people working on that for us,' Steph beams. 'We've got links in Las Vegas and it would be great to be out there – and all around the world really. We love our products and people are loving them too which is so heartening.'

Nelson's Golden Apple Cocktail recipe

(makes one)


30ml Nelson's Gold 25ml apple juice 10ml sugar syrup

5ml cinnamon syrup

Method 1. Fill a metal shaker with cracked ice. 2. Pour in all of the ingredients.

3. Shake five times and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

4. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

5. Garnish with strips of apple.