We turned to the world of tea-making to unlock new nuances

Excess & Debauchery is an exploration of tea-making techniques. Jerusalem artichoke leaves are hand-rolled to oxidize and then air-dried, unlocking vegetal notes and light green sweetness. The leaves are smoked with the wood of a used Oloroso sherry cask, bringing aromas reminiscent of cured tobacco. The final spirit is aged for four months in ex-Bourbon casks to round it off and bring further depth, sweetness, and woody aromas.

The discovery

  • One rainy morning, we visited Søren Wiuff’s farm outside of Copenhagen to look at a potential harvest of mirabelle plum.

    Instead, we got hooked on the long and stalky leaves of Jerusalem artichokes.

    While they are traditionally used as feed, they exuded very green, earthy and pleasantly bitter flavors we wanted to further explore.

    We turned to the world of tea-making to unlock new nuances.

  • Layers of complexity

    We were on our way to make a tea without using the traditional Camellia sinensis.

    We first bruised the Jerusalem artichoke leaves and rolled them to start the oxidizing.

    This method gave a layer of complexity to the naturally astringent leaves.

  • Beautiful cured tobacco leaf flavor

    To bring more depth we took a page out of the history of smoked teas.

    As we were about to retire one of our oloroso sherry casks, our Head of R&D Chris set about breaking it down and chipping it to smoke-dry the leaves.

    This yielded the beautiful cured tobacco leaf flavor that we were hoping for.

  • A whisper of fruit and sweetness

    After distillation, the blend spent four months in an ex-Bourbon Ehime cask to round it off. The result is a robust woody smoke, deep earthy vegetal body, heightened by a whisper of fruit and sweetness from its time in the cask.

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The Zine

  • To capture all the steps that led to Excess & Debauchery, we once again reached out to Brooklyn-based artist and designer Kelsey Niziolek. Kelsey had previously worked with us on our very first spirits illustrations featuring

  • Easy Tiger, Fallen Pony and Charlene McGee. It only felt natural to leave Excess & Debauchery in her expert hands. From a budding idea to the final blend, each step is depicted in a post-punk surrealist composition.

    Follow Kelsey Niziolek 
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The cocktail

Try The Dart with Excess and Debauchery

  • The Dart

    Vegetal and earthy notes are at the core of Excess & Debauchery.

    To highlight them, we got inspired by the neoclassic Paper Plane. Yes, we tweaked it a bit but hey, we always tweak everything.

  • Ingredients

    3cl Excess & Debauchery
    2.5cl Cynar
    2.5cl Kina l’Aero d’Or
    1.5cl lemon juice

  • Method

    Add all ingredients in a shaker.
    Add ice and hard shake.
    Double strain in a coupe glass.
    Garnish with a lemon zest after
    expressing its oils

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Empirical is a flavor company.

Taking a flavor-first approach means we find great ingredients and turn them into delicious experiences. Learn more about the Empirical way.



Watch Episode 3 of Flavor Up! and join us behind the scenes, as Thomas Lim, culinary director and partner of Wish You Were Here group, takes us through the underlying philosophy of Belles Beach House, how you can learn from what happens in a kitchen to overcome barriers and embrace failure, break away from tunnel vision and keep adding creativity to everything you do.