It’s amazing how travelling can inspire brilliant ideas. Our co-founders Marcus Black and Mike Carthy were in New Zealand in 2017 as Slingsby was an official supplier to the British and Irish Lions rugby team during their tour of that year. Whilst over there, they both took a liking to New Zealand sauvignon blanc, which is renowned for its gooseberry finish on the palate. Not long after their return, Slingsby Gooseberry Gin was born.
This blog post explores the story behind this delicious new gin, a little bit about what it tastes like – and also some delicious recipe ideas to try at home.
Gooseberry Gin in the Spotlight
Just like our famous Rhubarb Gin, Slingsby Gooseberry Gin began life as an experimental gin available for customers to try at our shop in Harrogate. It went down a treat with one customer remarking, “all the Slingsby gins were incredible, especially the gooseberry one”, and another saying, “Slingsby Gooseberry Gin is amazing, I hope this gets released.”
After being tried and tested by over 5,000 people, a small batch was then created which was available to buy exclusively from our store from November 2018. It went down such a treat that it’s now being made available to a much broader audience via the website.
We pride ourselves in being ahead of the curve when it comes to trends in gin. Just like our Rhubarb Gin, we think Gooseberry will be a huge hit because it offers something a little bit different. Like all our gins, Gooseberry uses the same botanical mix and classic citrus base of our London Dry Gin, but the addition of fresh Yorkshire gooseberries brings an unmissable tangy sharpness tempered with a sweet and fruity finish.
The gin itself is clear in colour, unlike our Rhubarb Gin, which we enhanced with natural food colouring. It is not classed as a London Dry Gin as we blend with our gooseberry distillate and alter the flavour after the point of distillation.However, it’s actually created in a very similar way to our Rhubarb Gin. We steep Yorkshire gooseberries in our neutral grain spirit and re-distil this, to create a gooseberry distillate which is then combined with our London Dry and a tiny amount of sugar. This is then diluted with Harrogate Spring Water to the desired bottling strength of 40%.
Keeping it local
Like all of the botanicals and fruit we use in our products, we only source the very best local gooseberries for this new gin. They can be quite difficult to pick as traditionally they have spiky branches, the farm we source them from; the Balloon Tree Farm Shop and Café in Gate Helmsley near York, grows varieties which are less thorny and therefore easier to pick. Farmer and owner, Matthew Machin and his family have been farming the site for over 35 years. “It started off as a ‘pick your own’ strawberry farm but before long we started to add other fruit and vegetables, including gooseberries, into the mix”, he said.
Matthew added: “Demand for gooseberries has soared and we’ve had to double the area we dedicate to this fruit within the last five years, due to the growing demand for ‘pick your own’. We’ve also noticed that celebrity chefs and social media are both fuelling the trend for using more unusual fruits, like gooseberries, as they give people inspiration as to how to use them in recipes.”
All About Gooseberries
If you grew up in the countryside, chances are you might have childhood memories of tasting a gooseberry fresh off the bush and grimacing slightly at how sharp and sour it tastes. Well, they might have a reputation as being a bit tart, but when they’re cooked slowly (or in our case infused to make gin), they actually have a very complex slightly sweet and tangy flavour.
In fact, we think that in many ways, the gooseberry is a bit of an unsung hero of the summer fruits. Gooseberries are actually a great source of Vitamin B and C as well as minerals such as copper, calcium, phosphorus and manganese. They also contain compounds that reduce inflammation and that can prevent the development of certain types of cancer and neurological disorders. So, they’re an all-round super fruit!
It goes without saying that gooseberries are wonderful in jams, compotes and pies.
BBC Good Food has some brilliant and innovative recipes for cooking them at home including gooseberry and coconut cake, gooseberry and vanilla jam and gooseberry Bakewell pies. But don’t just assume they’re only reserved for sweet dishes. Gooseberry pairs brilliantly with pork and mackerel because their sweet sharpness offsets their salty flavour and fatty texture of this meat and fish. Abel and Cole’s slow roast pork belly with gooseberry sauce is a real winner, as is Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s smoked mackerel with gooseberry. It’s also a great addition to the cheeseboard - gooseberry compote tastes divine with brie and camembert, and will give goat's cheese a unique kick.
But the big question on everyone’s lips is, what’s the best way to serve Slingsby’s new Gooseberry Gin? Here are some of our suggested signature serves:
50ml Slingsby Gooseberry Gin
200ml Fever-Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water
Fresh Green Apple
Add all ingredients to a speakeasy goblet filled with ice. Stir and sip your deliciously unique GG&T at any occasion. Thinly slice your green apple, laying them flat and fanning them out slightly on top of one another. Pierce through the slices where they meet at the base with a cocktail stick for an incredibly professional looking apple fan. Alternatively, just add a few freshly cut slices for the same fresh fruity taste.
Top Tip: Mediterranean tonic is slightly sweeter (as it has less quinine in it) so it pairs really well with any sweeter style of gin. The green apple enhances the fruity aroma and looks incredible, an apple fan adds an element of theatre to the drink.
The Gooseberry Southside
A more delicate version of the better-known Mojito. Served in a sophisticated speakeasy coupe glass, a refreshing and light cocktail you can easily make in bulk; perfect for parties wanting to put a drop of summer in their drinks menu.
50ml Slingsby Gooseberry Gin
25ml Fresh Lime Juice
12.5ml Elderflower Cordial
5ml Green Chartreuse
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a speakeasy coupe. Garnish with a mint leaf.
Top Tip: if you want a longer drink, fill a high ball glass with ice, strain the mixed ingredients over the ice and top with soda for a Southside Fizz. Garnish with a mint sprig, slapped across the back of your hand to release the fresh aromas.
Keep up to date with new cocktails and fresh serves by following us on social media and checking into the cocktail page on our website to see what's new!
So, if you’d like to try something a bit different, why not get your hands on our delicious new Slingsby Gooseberry Gin? It’s available in our online shop now priced at £39.99.