October treat consisted of going on a foraging course with Tom Langham from “Notes from the hills” in South West France. We ventured into the local countryside and collected the juniper berries necessary for gin making, amongst other autumn goodies.
Then back at base, the fun began with choosing the finer notes of the gin. From a vast selection of dried flowers, herbs and spices, I went for rose petals and sumac, both present in our garden.
It is a lovely process done over a couple of hours. All ingredients are carefully weighed out and put into the traditional handmade copper alembic still and heated to the right temperature, etc….., taking home a small bottle of deliciously fragrant rose petal and sumac gin.
As my grandparents were professional distillers, farmers, cider makers, coopers and innkeepers, it was lovely to learn about this process. Fond memories emerged, of Oma Lina sitting in a steamed-up room stoking the wood-fired still, chatting to the old boys who had delivered their fruit in large oak barrels made by my grandfather. Dozens of glasses and measuring devices were on an old table, stained by decades of use, watched over by an oil painting of Bismarck, nearly black and discoloured from years of heat and steam. Wonderful memories of days gone by full of love and nurture. Happy childhood holidays on my gran’s smallholding.