Cheers, Memphis! Pyramid Vodka Is On The Way
By Halloween this year, you'll have another option for drinking local in Memphis. Memphians Alexander Folk and Winston Folk – brothers aged 25 and 27, respectively – will begin distributing their handmade Pyramid Vodka in the coming months. Here's my interivew with Alexander about the latest addition the our city's growing beer and spirits scene.
Holly: The inspiration for the name seems obvious, but can you elaborate?
Alexander: It goes a little bit deeper than just referring to the Pyramid downtown. Memphis of course was the capital of ancient Egypt, and that structure to us can kind of stand for the capital of the Mississippi River Delta, which is where our corn comes from. We source all of our corn in a 100-mile radius. It's also a fun visual that alludes to the process of distilling spirits, which is kind of mysterious.
Holly: Why vodka?
Alexander: Believe it or not, Memphis has some of the greatest resources to make it. The corn grown in the Delta is the best because it's such a fertile area, plus Memphis water is the best water in the world. It was a no-brainer to do vodka, because we didn't want to mask the flavor of the natural ingredients. And we both really like vodka.
Holly: What did you and your brother do before this?
Alexander: I've worked in restaurant and hospitality, and while I loved the service side of things, I got very interested in the production side of things as a way to provide good quality spirits. My brother Winston spent several years in the Coast Guard and has worked in management and consulting since then.
Holly: What will distinguish this vodka from Skyy, Stoli, Svedka…all the big name vodkas people can get?
Alexander: 95 percent of vodka and really, all liquor, is made by large manufacturers. The companies will buy the spirits, then bottle and label it. It comes down to more of a marketing company. What we're doing is sourcing the corn ourselves – from our older brother who has a farm in Wilson, Arkansas – then processing the corn, fermenting the corn mash, and distilling it here in Memphis in our own facility. There are very few people doing that.
Holly: Your Instagram profile says "handmade". How do you handmake vodka?
Alexander: We make our vodka batch by batch and we handle every aspect of it. In the industry, that's considered a handmade batch process. Most large manufactures use a continuous distillation process.
Holly: When and where will it be available? And how much?
Alexander: Pyramid Vodka will just be in Memphis at first. We're expecting to be in most local restaurants and liquor stores by mid-October. Our fifth will be about $21 and the handle will be around $30.
Holly: What about the distillery? Will it be available for tours?
Alexander: Our distillery will be ready for touring by the first of next year (2015) at the latest. You'll be able to tour and see our process and our story, then try a small sample and purchase bottles.
(Ed. Note: Unlike the local beer taprooms, you won't legally be able to buy a Pyramid Vodka cocktail on the distillery premises. Just samples. Also, the distillery is in Uptown. I'll keep you posted on its progress.)