Meet the Maker: The Slow Vinegar Company

Meet the Maker: The Slow Vinegar Company

Welcome to Hope and Story's Meet the Maker Series, where we chat to some of the people behind our favourite independent British brands.

 

The Slow Vinegar Company

I chatted with the wonderful Andrew and Sarah frequently and got to know a little bit more about their company. I managed to drag them away from doing what they love for half an hour to answer my questions on product making, sustainability, future plans, surviving a pandemic and lots more....

 

So, for those who have not been lucky enough to have come across your brand, can you tell us a little bit about The Slow Vinegar Company?

Yes of course! We make a range of award-winning wine vinegars. There are twelve flavours in all which are seasonally aligned, so made with produce when it is at its freshest. The flavours are unique and interesting like Wild Garlic or Ginger Wine Vinegar, and they all help to add complexity and depth of flavour to your dishes. We have won several Great Taste Awards and recently were 'Highly Commended' in the Great British Food Awards.

 

When was The Slow Vinegar Company born? And how has it progressed from then to now?

The roots of the company go way back, a lifelong interest in wine making and fermentation, so it was a slow incremental process, experimenting and learning until we realised, we had something that other people might be interested in. The vinegars take time to make so although we registered the company in mid 2019, we weren't ready to trade until autumn 2020. At that stage, we only had 4 flavours in one size of bottle. Since then, we continued to develop the range and now have all 12 flavours in constant production available in two bottle sizes and a gift box option too.

 

 

We are aware that you attend a lot of shows and events throughout the year, how did Covid 19 impact your business?

Actually, for us, the pandemic was a really important time to develop the company. Being forced to work at home (in our other jobs!) and any other plans and engagements all cancelled, we were able to spend more time designing packaging and refining our production. When the restrictions began to lift, we were ready to make some tentative steps into the world of trade fairs, food fairs and events. There were definitely challenges launching a food business during this period but as we had little prior experience, it was all new and exciting.

 

Can you talk us through how you make your vinegars? What is the process behind the production of wine vinegar?

We start by making wine, 'hedgerow wines' which are alcoholic fermentations. Where possible we forage and grow produce but some flavours require us to visit local farms. For example, in autumn we will pick elderberries and ferment these with water, sugar and yeast into elderberry wine. The wine is then rested and matured for a minimum of eight months.

We then ferment the wine a second time but this time as an acetic fermentation, where the alcohol transforms into acid (vinegar) in the presence of acetobacteria and air. Next, the vinegar is rested and matured for at least another three months whilst further infusing in its base ingredients.

It is a really long process, but we think that a more complex flavour is developed. To try and prove this we had the flavour profiles of the vinegars scientifically tested at the Biorenewables Development Centre in York. Against some regular standard wine vinegars, the results categorically proved that there were significantly more flavour components in our vinegars.

 

You talk about how you are based in Yorkshire and how your vinegars are made locally, how important is it to you to make your vinegars right here in the UK?

It is important for us to make the carbon footprint of our production process as small as possible so sourcing all our produce as locally as possible helps reduce food miles, allows us to know the provenance behind the ingredients and support other local businesses. Foraging ingredients from local wild hedgerows definitely gives a very UK twist to the range which we hope resonates with customers. We're also happy to be using British sugar, made from sugar beet grown in Lincolnshire.

 

Are you currently working on anything exciting you would like to share with us, any new flavour editions?

We are excited to have just launched a new addition to our range, Blackcurrant Vinegar Syrup. This is our Blackcurrant Wine Vinegar that has been reduced and sweetened into a sweet and sour sticky syrup which you can drizzle straight onto salads, fruit or ice cream. We entered it into the Great Taste Awards this year and won 2 stars which is very encouraging.

 

 

What attracted you to work with Hope and Story?

We think our two companies share some ideas, vision and values so make a good match. If people are interested in Hope and Story, they will hopefully be interested in us too. We think it is important to support small independent producers and this is what you do so it's a pleasure to be working with you.

 

Click here to shop The Slow Vinegar Company