We live in gin-savvy times, and even the casual drinker knows something about the botanicals that go into it. There’s juniper berries, of course, without which it just ain’t gonna taste like gin. Then there are the classic background notes: citrus peel, coriander, angelica…
But how about heather, bog myrtle, rowan berries, dandelion and apple?
These are the five unusual, though highly appropriate, botanicals that go into Caorunn, a premium gin made at the Balmenach whisky distillery in Scotland’s Speyside whisky region.
Yesterday I found myself in a field just up from the distillery, helping Simon Buley, Caorunn’s gin master, cut heather and bog myrtle to go into his next batch.
He simply heads for the surrounding fields and cuts the stuff with scissors. He gets the rowan berries from trees that are even closer – in the distillery grounds – and asks his co-workers not to weed the dandelions – he needs the leaves for his gin!
The rare coul blush apples, a Scottish variety bred to withstand the cold, come from a bit further away, but food miles purists needn’t panic – it’s only up the road.
I’ve got a few midge bites to show for it, but I also like to think I’ve played a small but significant part in producing a real live gin. Okay, I’m not a master yet, but you could call me a very fledgling apprentice.
Look out for the story of gin master Simon and Caorunn, coming up soon in delicious. magazine…