Full names: Stephanie Jayne Brown and Matthew Douglas Brown
Roles: Joint owners of Wild Knight English Vodka
DOBs: 20.9.68 / 21.07.64
Fun Fact: Steph passed her motorbike test a few years’ ago and owns a Kawasaki ZXR400 – pocket rocket! Matt has flown solo and recently accompanied their 16 year old daughter on her first flying lesson.
Hey guys – please tell us a little about your vodka. What’s the difference between what you are doing and say, a mass market competitor? You use Norfolk barley, which is prized by distillers and brewers, and you also brought in a veteran distiller to help you get started….?
Yes, we work very closely with a highly-experienced artisan distiller. The difference with our Ultra-Premium English vodka and that which is mass-produced, is that we produce and distill in very small batches. Through a single, finely-controlled distillation we have created a very smooth vodka that has a complex flavour profile and a very long finish.
It’s a fine sipping spirit that is best enjoyed straight at room temperature. Our Master Distiller removes the harsh ‘heads and tails’ during distillation of each batch, bottling only the very best of the ‘heart’ where all the flavour is found. It’s beautifully smooth and you can be sure that even after a few glasses, your head will still be clear in the morning. [Ed: not sure the science agrees with this]
You’re based in Beachamwell near Swaffham, right? What’s good in your part of the country when it comes to food and drink?
We are right in the heart of the Brecks; famed for a wealth of artisan food and drink; from cheese through to bread, vegetables and now of course our Wild Knight® English Vodka made from Royal Norfolk barley.
Where do you see the British craft spirits industry going in the near future? I assume you took some inspiration/direction from what the gin scene has been upto? Any overall trends you think we should be looking out for?
Our ethos has always been not to follow trends. We set out to bring vodka to life by creating a vodka with an aroma, and with a taste. This goes against the age-old perception of vodka, and that’s what we want people to enjoy. Gin sells more than premium vodka but we would like to open people’s minds to enjoying a drink to savour not guzzle.
What’s your philosophy, summed up in a sentence?
Authenticity and the highest quality are crucial to us.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had, how did you overcome it, and what did you learn from it?
The main obstacle at the moment is in finding new distributors.
Who’s the person who’s most inspired you in your work – food industry or otherwise? Is there anyone that you draw inspiration or strength from? Do you have any specific culinary influences?
Inspiration comes from all around us. Not one single individual – but talking to those in the industry and those who enjoy drinking our vodka. This helps us cement our ideas and confirm our direction.
What do you enjoy most and least about what you do?
Most – is the interaction with our Champions: see http://www.wildknightvodka.co.
Least – dealing with distributors who close the door before being open minded.
What advice would you give to aspiring food and drinks entrepreneurs who’d want the kind of results that you’ve had?
Never give up! Listen to others and learn from others’ experiences but always stay true to your dream.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing instead?
Continuing with our marketing business and helping others to achieve their goals and brand aspirations.
If you could cook anything for anyone, anywhere you chose – who would you pick, where would you do it and what would you cook for them?
That’s an easy one! Richard Branson. Apparently he loves stews and Matt is a magician in the kitchen. He can rustle up one of his ‘one-pot-wonders’, which everybody loves!
If you could get anyone to try Wild Knight (fictional or real, living or dead) who would you pick? Assume that they go on to be your brand ambassador…
Any of the great leaders. Churchill in particular. It’s well documented that he enjoyed a drink and we’d be interested to hear his views, not only on our vodka but on life in general in 2016!
What’s your ultimate aim and goal for the business? If you could achieve anything with it, what would you pick? Money and reality are no obstacle, so shoot for the moon…
We would like to grow our business, specialising in premium drinks to cater for different tastes and drinking experiences. Above all we want people to enjoy a drink to savour, no matter whether that’s vodka, rum, whisky… Above all we want to create premium drinks for people to enjoy.
Where next for you and the brand?
We want to continue to grow Wild Knight and export to overseas markets. We have contacts in America and so will probably start there. Ultimately it would be exciting to export to Mongolia – where our journey began back in 2010. #Coalstonewcastle
And we always ask three customary ridiculous questions…
If you had a time machine that could send you backward in time as far as you wanted (without any logical paradoxes, timeline contamination, etc.) – what period of time would you visit and what are the first 3 things you’d do once you got there?
It would be interesting to go back to Arthurian times, around the late 5th and early 6th centuries AD to see whether vodka was around in these times in our country. It’s reputed to have originated in eastern Europe but maybe, just maybe, King Arthur fortified his knights before battle with a goblet of English Wild Knight.
1. Have a chat with King Arthur.
2. Obviously meet all of his Knights (Steph’s keen to do this).
3. Compare their vodka to our Wild Knight.
If you were given an infinite budget but had to spend it all on entirely frivolous stuff, what are the first 3 things you’d buy, and why?
Hmmm, that’s tricky. Matt would probably go for a fast car or a jet and Steph has always hankered after a yacht in the Med. Sorted.
You have acquired a pet dragon and are morally obliged to look after it. It is 25 ft tall at the hips, spits fire, eats half a ton of raw meat a day, and likes long walks. What would you call it and what would you do to keep it entertained and housed?
Sorry, but have you seen our branding? Think ‘George and the dragon’. A dragon would not be our pet for long. However, we do have a kitten called Bumble. Much friendlier than a 25 ft dragon.