Sloes, Tonics & Blackberry Buckaroo At Walnut Tree Distillery
About Walnut Tree Distillery Farm
Our Norfolk Farmhouse Gins all start as neutral grain alcohol and a selection of local base botanicals. Our signature ingredient is the walnut, hand-picked from the trees that surround our home and give our distillery it’s name. We aim to source as many of our ingredients as we can from the rich and abundant Norfolk countryside. Our gins take their inspiration from the plants and flowers commonly found in the gardens and hedgerows of this beautiful and historic county. Each and every bottle we produce contains a little bit of Norfolk.
What’s Going On!
This week we have mostly been in the hedgerows. The fruit harvest has been unlike any other this year and we are trying to gather as much as we can whilst we can. I can’t remember a year in which the sloes have been so abundant. At times it feels more like harvesting grapes than berries. Some of our regular haunts have been so weighed down with fruit that branches are literally creaking as we pick. In one spot alone we managed a haul of 32 kilos in a mornings work – definitely a new record!
We’re also on the hunt for blackberries right now (not that we are having to look too hard!) Last year we experimented a little with a blackberry gin in very small batches. Its looking increasingly unlikely we’ll have the fun of the usual outdoor Christmas markets this year (although we continue to keep everything crossed that some might run) but we’re looking to improve on last years offering so after the sloes came the blackberries.
There’s definitely a pain scale when picking from the hedgerows. The large needles of the blackthorn are unpleasant but the barbs of a bramble are certainly more potent. The blackberries are also far more elusive. Such is their ripeness right now, you pick one and another 6 drop off the branch. We tried strategic “bag positioning” but the brambles natural armoury often does its job and hands and bags end up shredded. You pay for your crop when working with blackberries!
Other than the harvest this week, which has been the most pressing priority, we’ve also been dabbling with some different tonics. Definitely one the major perks of distilling your own gin is taste profiling and working on the ideal serve. As we move away from the summer and into a new season we’re focusing on our Spiced and Sloe gins and playing around with new ways to drink these. With a small heatwave on the horizon I suspect taste testing will be suspended for the next few days ahead and we’ll be up to our wellies in hedgerows again!
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13TH SEPTEMBER 2020