We have a new limited edition gin that will be doing its bit to fundraise for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as well as help combat the scourge of Himalayan Balsam from the river banks around our distillery. Riverside Gin will raise £5 for the Trust with every bottle sold.
This gin came to life after Max started talking with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust about a collaboration to shine a light on nature in Derbyshire, and thoughts turned to a gin inspired by local botanicals found in the Trust’s reserves and along the River Derwent, a water course close to both our hearts.
Amongst its broad focus on everyone being able to enjoy nature, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust works on various projects to protect and enhance the River Derwent. At the distillery we use water from the river for cooling and are passionate about looking after our local environs, so it seemed natural to collaborate on something that would showcase and benefit our local environment. The conversation began in early 2019 on a project to create a micro batch gin with a fundraising element that helps us give back to our local community.
We were particularly interested in exploring the use of Himalayan Balsam in our gin. As a non-native, invasive species, picking of Balsam is actively encouraged with many community groups organising ‘Balsam Bashing’ parties. The pink-flowered species smothers riverside habitats, harming native plants and can leave river banks subject to erosion. The plant has to be pulled up at the right time of year, before the seed pods explode and spread along the river. We’ve already talked about replacing one of our quarterly Litter Picks with a group ‘Balsam Pick’ in 2020 so we were keen to understand its potential value as a botanical.
We took to the local woods near the distillery to go “Balsam Bashing”, and our heads were turned when we realised the potential for using this plant as a botanical…the seeds are delicious!
Fast forward a few months and our distiller Dave has spent the summer distilling, tasting, adjusting and re-distilling a selection of botanicals foraged mainly from both the Trust’s nature reserve near Cromford and along the river bank in Shining Cliff Woods. The flavour from the Himalayan Balsam flowers had a mixed reception amongst the team, but we were delighted to find the seeds had a lovely creamy note. Dave was particularly excited with the Water Mint once distilled – it’s bold, strong flavour balanced well with the creamy Himalayan Balsam.
We worked hard to get the recipe right for this special edition gin, experimenting with foraged botanicals and balancing the flavours.
After many team tastings, including some with our partners at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, we selected a recipe based principally on seasonal riverside botanicals of Himalayan Balsam, Meadowsweet, Wood Sorrel, Water Mint and Red Clover. Fresh lime peel was also chosen to add balance to the gin.
Locally foraged wood sorrel makes an excellent botanical for gin and is found in abundant amounts year-round.
With the final distillation now completed and the gin being left to ‘marry’ for a few weeks, Claire is working with the Trust to finalise the bespoke packaging for this special edition release. We plan to have the gin ready for sale by mid-November in our shop and online, following a launch event with the Trust at the distillery for their members.
If you would like to order a bottle of this special edition gin, where £5 of every sale goes to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, you will be able to buy in our pop-up shop in Ambergate from 15 November, or you can pre-order a bottle online now. All pre-orders will be despatched from 25 November and make the perfect gift for Christmas.