Provenance, now there’s an over used and abused word right there. Its meaning almost lost in a fog of press releases and advertising. With a healthy demand for more information and greater authenticity, providing details of how and where your spirit was made can help a product’s provenance.
But what if you took that to another level?
What if you hand picked every botanical and marked its location by GPS and W3W (what 3 words, it’s an app that divides the world up into 3x3m squares and used words rather than numbers)
Yeah that’s right, our provenance is more provenancy than yours….
We’re exceptionally fortunate to be based at the foot of Bennachie and we made full use of our location. All ingredients for the grist bill were foraged within 500 metres of the still and their locations marked.
We started foraging in April, after the snow had cleared and finished in August as the early autumn berries were emerging. It was fascinating to witness the landscape change and for our larder to develop.
There are only a couple of weeks in April where the sap rises and you can tap birch. We also began to pick birch and beech leaves while they were tender, green and sweet. Leave it too late and the tannins increase and they become too bitter.
By mid spring the landscape was transforming on an almost daily basis. We would put the drone up to see what was flowering and work out where we needed to go.
Through spring and summer we collected golden gorse, fresh young nettles, wild rose petals, bright blue speedwell, purple heather pearls, wood sorrel, white clover and cow parsley. If you’re foraging for cow parsley for the first time it is best to go with someone experienced as there are several very unpleasant plants that can have a similar appearance in the carrot family. For any foraging it is essential that you are exactly sure of what you are picking.
Wild Raspberries however are easily recognised and by late summer the hedgerows were full of them, and in the forest, a carpet of sweet Scottish blaeberries covered the dappled woodland floor.
Aye, pure majestic.
Unlike the blueberries you get in the shops, blaeberries have deep purple flesh and stain your fingers, and your lips when you munch them rather than collect them if you’re my daughter who was “helping”.
At this stage it’s important to say, projectGPS was entirely led by what was available to us. With projectAFG we had a very good idea of what we wanted to create and how to create it. With GPS though we had to piece together a spirit by trialling single botanical distillates with constant grist masses, and then try to build up compound distillations from there. It was a lengthy but outright fascinating process. We could have made near infinite spirits with varying grist bills and cutting points. When we got onto the compound distillation runs the constantly varying flavours at different temperatures was just mind blowing and I definitely think we’re going to return to something like this again one day.
Half was made on the wee dug 10 litre still and the rest was made on the big dug 100 litre still. There are 155 35cl flasks available.
We’re quite chuffed with the outcome, honey sweetness from the clover, fresh almost citrus notes form the young beech leaves, fruit from the errr fruit… a little earthiness from the nettles and sap and just enough of a tannic nip to give some bite and complexity.
Again, no signature serve, (have some imagination people, these are experimental spirits, go experiment) but we’ve enjoyed it neat, it goes well with a splash of tonic and it’s a great substitute for gin or vodka in classic cocktails like a dry martini.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we have foraging, distilling and blending it.
Beech – 57.2660350, -2.4748790 ///cycled.register.variation
Birch sap and leaves – 57.2634650, -2.4745660 ///enrolling.cherish.mango
Blaeberries – 57.2629470, -2.4843640 ///zinc.pont.geology
Cow parsley – 57.2627020, -2.4788200 ///warms.nibbled.strong
Clover – 57.2638160, -2.4747460 ///dirt.conspire.decking
Gorse – 57.2626170, -2.4805850 ///refusals.flash.shuts
Heather – 57.2629460, -2.4843650 ///nurtures.upwards.locate
Nettles – 57.2626210, -2.4802830 ///profile.trifle.dissolves
Raspberries – 57.2628010, -2.4783790 ///patting.hack.decays
Rose – 57.2628850, -2.4778330 ///trinkets.wheels.rivers
Speedwell – 57.2660560, -2.4748350 ///discussed.cakes.internal
Wood sorrel – 57.2628590, -2.4849000 ///texts.piled.boom