In which G.M. Norton joins a group of epicurean adventurers for a journey into the unknown.
One might suppose that I am partial to a gin or three. If you have jumped to that conclusion about me, I must congratulate you and confirm that you are indeed correct.
|Rowan berries form the very soul of Caorunn Gin|
So, why the invite to go foraging? Well, as part of Caorunn Gin’s Forage to Glass initiative, they have been working with watering holes to discover wild ingredients to help create unique and tasty cocktails. After a few successful foraging outings with local bartenders at Lawn Club and Elixir, they turned their attention to people interested in drinking them, offering them the chance to get at one with nature too.
|An attempt at 'street photography'|
So, one wet and chilly morning, I travelled to the meeting place, 22 Redbank in Manchester where I was welcomed with warm smiles and a hot beverage. It was reminiscent of a rather agreeable sitting room with Chesterfields and a resplendent rug.
I recognised a few of my fellow adventurers also
making the trip. Exchanging in a little conversation, our horseless carriage (a
minibus) eventually pulled up to take us to a mystery foraging location.
As our transportation was yet to arrive, we stopped by a nearby drinking tavern. After consuming a tankard of Timothy Taylor’s finest, we were on our way back to Manchester’s Lawn Club for a spot of lunch and a couple of these rather delicious Wild Bramble cocktails.
|A rather agreeable sitting room|
|Mystery Foraging Location|
Upon arriving at said mystery foraging location, we were introduced to Mr. David Winnard from Discover the Wild, a foraging expert who had bravely agreed to lead the rabble. An absolute brick of a chap, it was simply fascinating to hear him talk about a subject that was very close to his heart. Literally an expert in his field, Mr Winnard explained that we would be seeking out the five botanicals that make up Caorunn Gin - rowan berry, bog myrtle, heather, dandelion leaf and coul blush apple.
|Foraging expert extraordinaire|
Excitingly, we were all asked to keep the mystery foraging location a secret. It soon transpired that one of the botanicals, the splendidly named bog myrtle, is extremely rare in the local area. So, to prevent pesky people with a penchant for plants from discovering its whereabouts, all I can you is that the mystery foraging location is not at 22 Redbank.
|Cravat in the country|
As I was venturing into the great outdoors, I wrapped myself up in tweed. After all, a well-dressed Englishman will set the standards of good taste, where’er he may roam.
Before we had even left the car park, we were encouraged to pick berries from a bramble bush. Very tasty they were too!
The first of the five botanicals we were led towards was the humble dandelion, which provides the herbal notes of the gin. Quite quickly, we ticked off our second botanical – the apple. Although not of the coul blush variety, it was an apple nonetheless. I must confess, without it being pointed out, I would never have spotted the apple trees.
|Welcome to the leafy glade|
After making a mental note of its location for future cider-making adventures, we moved onto muddier parts before finding our third botanical of the day, the rowan berry. These are absolutely everywhere it seems! A lovely red colour, they have a pentagram stamped on their bottoms, giving it a superstitious quality. The rowan berry gives Caorunn its name as Caorunn is Gaelic for rowan. Once cooked, they make a rather scrumptious jelly.
Finding our foraging feet, we were soon amongst the familiar sight of heather. Just beautiful. It was obviously there to distract people from the fifth and final botanical nestled quite close by, the now infamous bog myrtle.
|Bog myrtle for the lady?|
Before we left the secret foraging location, we also had the chance to find rose hips, elderberries and sloes.
|Making sloe gin since 1828|
It was a real adventure and it was a pleasure to be in the company of our guide, Mr. Winnard.
Caorunn Gin is a tasty drop, I must say. Especially with a slice of apple.
Since my trip into the wild, I’ve since returned to the mystery foraging location to collect blackberries to go into a homemade crumble. The experience has quite literally opened my eyes – I’m constantly exploring my surroundings with greater interest to see what tasty treats are just waiting for me to take home.
|Rowan berries and blackberries|
Thanks awfully to Caorunn Gin, David Winnard from Discover the Wild and Dave Barber from 22 Redbank for a memorable excursion. What a jolly fine outing!
Protagonist of ‘Norton of Morton’