Smoked Water from Wales Is Taking the Culinary World by Storm
From barbecue to whiskey, a touch of smoke can add character to almost anything. It taps into our primal instincts to cook our food over an open fire. But smoked water? No, this water isn't be served up in 16-ounce bottles and sold in airports and vending machines as a beverage, but the surprisingly pricey Welsh product (it sells for more than some Scotches) is apparently becoming an increasingly popular item in some culinary circles.
Halen Môn Oak Smoked Water comes from a company in rural North Wales called the Anglesey Sea Salt Company – which, as you may have guessed, is better known for selling sea salt and can name drop Martha Stewart and Daniel Humm as some of its fans. But according to Bloomberg, the water itself was actually the brainchild of Heston Blumenthal, chef at the Michelin-starred English eatery Fat Duck. Anglesey originally attempted the idea at his behest. "For anyone else, you would say, 'No, you don't normally smoke water,'" David Lea-Wilson, co-owner of Anglesey, was quoted as saying. "But for Heston Blumenthal? "You think, 'Actually, this guy knows more about food than I do. Let's rise to the challenge.'"
The resulting product pleased Blumenthal, who features it in a number of dishes on his £265 tasting menu (braised pork belly with a smoked coconut fluid gel, for example), and then hit the retail market in 2013. According to Lea-Wilson, interest was initially small, but a couple of years ago, the company began showcasing it food events, and sales have doubled every year since. Anglesey brought it to New York's Fancy Food Show in June and now plan to distribute it in the United States.
Just don't expect to score Smoked Water cheap. Creating the water naturally, which Anglesey says makes their product unique compared to other liquid smokes, takes ten days of filtering the water through oak chips and oak dusts. By the time Halen Môn Oak Smoked Water reaches retail, it sells for about $5.45 per 100 milliliter bottle. That's more than a lot of smoky Scotches. So who know, maybe drinking it as a beverage would make you look pretty cool?