New award winning vodka highlights growing potential for KWS hybrid rye

Exciting new opportunities for UK growers to benefit from KWS hybrid rye are continually being developed by the company with a new award-winning artisan vodka more than proving the point.

Three Grain Vodka, the result of a collaboration between plant breeder KWS and 'In The Welsh Wind' distillery, is receiving global recognition despite it being the first vodka produced by the Cardigan-based company.

Made from separately distilled KWS hybrid rye and barley varieties and spirit made from KWS wheats, the vodka was launched in November 2022 and has now won Gold in the ‘Varietal Vodka’ category at the 2023 World Vodka Awards.

The tasters noted the vodka had: "Distinct aromas of toasted grains giving a warm and inviting nose. The palate has intense nutty grains and a lovely savouriness. Bags of character."

The origins of Three Grain Vodka began when KWS sought a partner to produce a consumer product from its seeds, explains Meredith Mendola, Operations Lead for KWS’ Digital Innovation Team (DIA).

“We could not pass up on the opportunity to partner with a bespoke spirits brand and a talented extended reality (XR) agency to show how our high-quality seeds become the products which consumers enjoy.

"The goal was to inspire vodka drinkers to be curious about the origins of their spirits and drive consumer demand backwards in the value chain.

"The story of this unique product is told on every bottle and brought to life via the innovative Welsh distillery’s very first Augmented Reality-enabled label."

"Commissioned by KWS and developed by Juice Immersive in Liverpool, it helps to provide a special experience for consumers by outlining the ‘grain to glass’ process from the seed being developed by KWS to its transformation into Three Grains Vodka."

KWS Sassy barley and KWS Tayo rye varieties used in the vodka were great choices and key to the high quality of the end product.
Dominic Spurrier, KWS UK Hybrid Rye Product Manager

According to In the Welsh Winds co-founder Ellen Wakelam, the KWS varieties used in Three Grains Vodka help to create a unique flavour which connoisseurs can detect upon first sip.

So pleased are they with the results that they plan to convert all their products to KWS varieties, she says.

“Three Grains Vodka is smooth and rich. As a varietal vodka, the flavours of the barley and grain are present, as we wanted them to be.

"There’s a distinct rye finish, along with flavours of vanilla and cold ice cream on a warm crepe. It’s as good to sip neat as it is mixed into a cocktail or served long with a good quality tonic.”

Dominic Spurrier, KWS UK Hybrid Rye Product Manager adds that the KWS Sassy barley and KWS Tayo rye varieties used in the vodka were great choices and key to the high quality of the end product .

"Tried and tested by the UK distilling industry over a long period, KWS Sassy is fully approved by the Malting Barley Committee for malting and distilling and is well regarded by distillers.

"KWS Tayo is now the most popular rye grown in the UK being one of a new generation of PollenPlus® hybrids with high grain and straw yields, together with low growing costs and robust stem stiffness compared to older hybrids."

More end users from a wider range of areas across the UK are now considering growing hybrid rye, he points out.

"The crop has gone from very niche uses in products such as Ryvita to now being used for whisky distilling, pig and poultry feeds, petfood and multi-grain breads.

"This is excellent news at a time when farmers badly need another cropping option, and KWS believe that rye has a strong future because of its’ specific advantages over other cereals.

"It is well suited to a climate that is becoming generally warmer and drier and the crop is much more sustainable agronomically.

"For a start it needs a lot less water and agrochemical inputs than wheat or barley but it also produces equivalent grain yields to these two crops whilst requiring half the Nitrogen they do.

"In a Carbon zero world, Nitrogen is the single most important factor in agriculture and it's this eye catching aspect of rye that is really attracting the attention of the big supermarkets, retailers and end product producers."

Further details about Three Grains Vodka are available by downloading the KWS Ingrain app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Once you have the app open and selected the In The Welsh Wind experience, point your phone's camera at the high-quality graphic.

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Dominic Spurrier
Dominic Spurrier
Commercial Lead UK Cereals
Tel.: 07776 998544
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