Tulips, or flowers in general, are not typically the main ingredients for drinkers, but a small distillery in the Netherlands has developed a process to create a high quality vodka with just two ingredients: tulip bulbs and water.
Dutch Tulip Vodka is the creation of the 33-year-old Joris Putman, a former director who became an entrepreneur. Four years ago, he decided he wanted to invent something, and even if he did not know exactly what that would be, he wanted to include the national symbol of his country, the tulip. After years of hard work, countless experiments and efforts to convince others that his idea of tulip vodka was valid, today it is having success and many luxury restaurants are starting to offer the drink on their menus.
“My friends originally suggested to distill from wheat, but it did not seem interesting at all – I would have done the same thing as others, following the same recipe,” Joris Putman said. “But they lit a light bulb. I immediately imagined tulips, liqueurs and vodka, and then it was only a matter of minutes before I started experimenting.”
Making vodka using only tulip bulbs and water was not easy, however Putman told of having spent two years perfecting the process, keeping everything secret, and even his friends and family were in the dark.
“The tulip has a consistency that makes the distillation process difficult, but the first time it worked it was simply fantastic,” said the young entrepreneur. “At the beginning it did not have a great taste, it was a combination of interesting and complex flavours. But once it worked, we started long-term distillation tests to optimise the flavour”.
The process of making the Dutch Tulip Vodka is a jealously guarded secret, but Putman has revealed that vodka is distilled three times, even if it is a different process from the one used in most distilleries.
A batch of Dutch Tulip Vodka takes up to three months to be produced, but can be rendered unusable if there are contaminated tulip bulbs. So Putman only procures the ingredients from an organic farmer in Northern Holland. At the distillery, Clusius Craft Distillers (named after the Dutch botanist who introduced tulips in the Netherlands) today 4,800 tulip bulbs arrive every day.
Putman has finally started marketing bottles of tulip vodka, but the price is not exactly popular! The “Pure” variety costs in fact 295 Euro per bottle, and the “Premium”, the cheapest is for sale “only” 48 Euro.