Empirical x Doritos Nacho Cheese...Behind the scenes

Empirical x Doritos Nacho Cheese...Behind the scenes

How did we bottle a chip?

We’re known to have tried to distill many unexplored flavors. But Doritos® Nacho Cheese is most definitely up there in the list of unexpected botanicals we’ve experimented with. 

But how did this all start?

The Origins

In the early days of Empirical, a staff member was back from lunch with a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos. A few laughs later, our curiosity was running wild. *What would happen if we tried to distill the chips? What if we drank our Doritos?”. And we acted on it.

Truth be told, we were not expecting much. And yet, we were amazed. Each sip tasted like the real thing, so much so you could almost feel the delicious umami powder on your fingers.

Starting from scratch

At Empirical, we start everything from scratch. Instead of buying in already-made flavorless neutral spirit to start our process, we build our base from the grain to the bottle. Quite similarly to beer, we use hand-selected malted barley imparting toasty and hazelnut-forward nuances, then brew and ferment it with a fruity and estery Belgian Saison yeast. 

Once we have our flavorsome wash, it is time to distill it.

It’s all about our vacuum distillation process.

Unlike traditional high-temperature distillation that denatures the flavor integrity of the ingredients, we distill at lower temperatures under vacuum. This cutting-edge technique ensures that every flavor layer is gently captured and preserved.

Learn more about vacuum distillation

Therefore we do a first vacuum distillation process of our fermented wash that will give us our 'low-wine', the base for the maceration of our botanicals.

Here comes the triangle

Ever wondered how much Doritos it takes to make a spirit? We definitely weren’t shy about flavors.

As it happens, each bottle of Doritos x Empirical roughly contains a full bag of Nacho Cheese deliciousness.  

The exquisite chips are first crushed by hand and macerated in our spirit base for a few hours, allowing all their beautiful flavors to be extracted. The mix is then distilled a second time to produce a clear spirit. 

Isolating the flavors to bring them back together

Open a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos, close your eyes, and bite into a chip. Can you taste all the different flavor layers coming into play? We want to achieve this same perfect balance between the umami, cheesy, softly bitter, and the hint of sweet and sour flavors. 

Each of these flavor compounds is also a volatile compound, each having its distinctive taste, molecular structure, and weight.

The lighter ones tend to be more fruit-forward and will be the first to vaporize when distilling, the heavier ones, with earthier flavors, follow one by one.

And this is why we segment our distillation spirit into more than 100 cuts, shattering the flavor of the Nacho Cheese chip into shards we can later blend, each bringing its own nuances. After distillation, we taste each of these cuts, select the ones that best express the flavors we are seeking, and blend them accordingly. One could say it’s a little bit like photoshopping flavors. 

Once our selected cuts are blended, we end up with a 65% ABV. We proof the spirit down to 42% ABV with reverse osmosis water for optimum flavor expression. 

It’s all about our vacuum distillation process.

The result is a bold, full-bodied spirit that delivers an explosion of aromas and flavor with every sip. It’s not just distillation; it’s the art of flavor preservation.

And here you have it. Want to put the flavors to the test?

Sign up to Pre-order DORITOS x EMPIRICAL

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