Burts April Flavour of the Month

04 April 2018

Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar!

Some packets of crisps demand attention as soon as they are opened. Once that distinctive, tangy, familiar aroma fills the air, causing nostrils and eyebrows to twitch, sometimes the Pavlovian response is to simply start salivating. And really, only a few flavours can command that sort of reaction. Where instinctively, without even looking, you know what the seasoning is.

We are, of course, talking about salt and vinegar here. Along with ready salted and cheese and onion – the Holy Trinity – these are the flavours that are often introduced at childhood. And these are the flavours that we will never, ever forget.

However, to kick off our new series of blog posts dedicated to the power of crisps, here at Burt’s Chips, we would like to start with that mighty combination of briny goodness and a pickled hit. Because there is a great story behind Burt’s Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar Chips. That was borne out of intrigue and a passion for craft malt vinegar. Which finally led itself all the way down to a nuclear bunker in Cornwall.

Originally, Mark and Leonora Nattrass, the people behind the Artisan Malt Vinegar Company, were in the brewery game, having successfully created a range of craft beers straight out of the Lizard Peninsula. They still do make good beer but there was obviously a certain degree of restlessness with regards to what else they could produce from malt and in 2008, they began to investigate the vinegar market.

Given that Italy was famous for it’s Balsamic vinegar, with Spain and France following on respectively with their sherry and wine contributions to the culinary scene, it baffled Mark and Leonora that there wasn’t a British vinegar that was revered in the same way. But then again, they also realised that our ubiquitous malt vinegar was only ever seen as ‘cheap and cheerful’. And only ever good for splashing on fish and chips.

So, they decided on developing another kind of malt vinegar. Where the usual acrid, acidic character could be replaced with deeper, mellower notes; true to the closer nature of malt. It took time and a lot of experimentation, but they eventually got there and upon it’s release on the market, soon dedicated home cooks and Michelin starred chefs alike began to clamber for bottles of the stuff. Several Taste Awards followed, as true connoisseurs began to sniff out hints of caramel, or dark chocolate and oak.

But most importantly, the vinegar they produced was live, a natural product, made with quality barley and no additives. Before they knew it then, Mark and Leonora had a hit on their hands.

The secret to their success also lies in part to the building that houses their wooden barrels of live vinegar, for several months at a time. With walls and ceiling a metre thick, the temperature inside remains constant throughout the year. Perfect for storing and for delivering consistency.

How comes the walls are so thick though? Well, that’s because the building used go under the name of RAF Treleaver and was a former nuclear bunker, completed at the height of the Cold War!

Which is just one of the many reasons that we use their fantastic vinegar to make our Sea Salt and Malt Vinegar Chips. Craft, artistry and passion are key. But that unique, quirky approach?

That’s what helps to deliver the real flavour, that makes our mouths water so much.

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