Blackcurrants. Whoever is up there, thank you for blackcurrants.
Take this specimen.
Take this specimen. This variety is called Big Ben, and it is our king of kings. The early cropping fruit is absurdly delicious and equally absurdly large.
In this instance, we need to part thank those “up there” in the James Hutton Institute based in Aberdeen and Dundee for their crossings of various rare breeds to produce this Adonis. Well done guys, a bit of genius there: we rather approve of progress when it produces this. But thanks also to the God of Blackcurrants (of all kinds) who chose to ignore all the usual warnings about the weather and the midge and the poverty of the phone signal etc etc and let this particularly miraculous bush flourish so happily in Northumberland. Stuff the phone signal, we’ve got blackcurrants.
Unfortunately, its fabulous flavour also means that the berry loss ratio, which is our measure of how much disappears between picking and putting in the collection baskets, is correspondingly high. The blackcurrant stalks are cut near the root to encourage strong regrowth and most of the berries then make it into the collection baskets.
The harvest then divides into two parts.
We use the leaves in the gin, which leaves the berries for cocktailing with, or simply feeds the voracious and illicit appetites of the harvester…
The leaves are taken to the distillery where they are gently distilled in the low temperature glass vacuum still to deliver one of our core distillates for Hepple Gin.
Once the momentum has built up around blackcurrants it is hard to stop. Nick kindly sent through this recipe for a Blackcurrant White Lady, as perfect today where blackcurrants can be removed from the freezer and defrosted and made into a syrup.