Highland Boundary Distillery: Wild Scottish Botanical Spirits & Liqueurs – for natural, refreshing, cool cocktails this summer.
Strathmore Glen around Blairgowrie, with its loamy soil, long summer days and mild climate, is renowned for the best soft fruits in Scotland, if not the UK, especially raspberries. This peaceful, lush landscape is home to Highland Boundary Distillery at Kirklandbank Farm, located, as its name suggests, on the geological fault line which runs north west from Stonehaven to the Isle of Arran.
The Distillery opened in 2016 by Dr. Marian Bruce and Simon Montador, and their ethically produced wild, Scottish spirits and liqueurs are intricately linked to their specialist conservation of this natural environment.
Around the Farm Distillery, they nurture indigenous trees, flourishing meadows and hedgerows as well as a wildlife pond with aqueous and wetland plants to attract dragonflies, newts and frogs. In the apothecary garden, a collection of medicinal herbs, borage, sweet violet and rare species is central to their biodiversity, flora and fauna research.
After a couple of years of careful experimentation with foraged buds and botanicals, they launched Birch and Elderflower Wild Scottish Spirit which was awarded Gold Medal at the San Francisco Spirits Competition, 2019.
Recently launched is their Larch and Honeysuckle Wild Scottish Spirit and already a prestigious Double Gold medal winner at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2020.
Standing tall and slender, the European larch is unique because it is the only deciduous conifer in the country, and in folklore, said to have protective powers against evil spirits. In Spring, the larch flower is a small green bud often tinged with pink before ripening into bright green cones, turning gold in Autumn.
The larch cones are picked in the local woodlands to be infused and macerated in grain spirit for several months to extract the oils and flavour. Just a touch of honeysuckle essence is then added for the final distillation process.
“I plucked a honeysuckle where the hedge on high is quick with thorn,
And climbing for the prize was torn, and by the thorns and by the wind,
The blossom that I took was thinn’d, And yet I found it sweet and fair”.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
In the language of flowers, honeysuckle – aka woodbine – is a symbol of good luck and devoted affection in love and marriage. With antibiotic properties the infusion of flowers were traditionally used to treat coughs, headaches and food poisoning.
The Springtime cream trumpet-shaped petals slowly turn an exotic pink in Summer. At Highland Boundary they only pick a small sample of flowers as required, preserving the blooms for butterflies and bumblebees to extract pollen and nectar.
On the nose, the first whiff of Larch and Honeysuckle Wild Scottish Spirit is beautifully perfumed with a fragrant aroma of vanilla and rose blossom. Sipped neat over ice, the taste is a complex balance of fresh pine and citrus fruits. Larch buds in fact have a similar flavour to juniper berries, the key ingredient of gin.
Therefore, ideal to try with Tonic water such as the Walter Gregor range, crafted from herbs and botanicals in the garden of the eponymous 19th century Aberdeenshire minister and plantsman.
The speciality Spiced Tonic with cinnamon, cloves and orange would be a fine mixer. Alternatively, for a summer pink drink, Scottish Raspberry Tonic ….and add a few fresh raspberries too.
Highland Boundary Wild Spirits offer a subtle botanical alternative to gin, vodka, rum and tequila in a diverse range of cocktails.
Tequila is dominated by smoked oak, vanilla, caramel and spices with similar characteristics to this aromatic Scottish spirit.
45 ml Larch and Honeysuckle Wild Spirit
15 ml Cointreau or Triple Sec
30 ml Lime Juice
(Various Margarita recipes give different measurements for Tequila and Cointreau)
Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Wet the rim of a glass with a wedge of lime and then dip into a saucer of salt. Strain the cocktail and serve straight, (or on the rocks), with a slice of lime on the side. The Cointreau and lime give a tart citrus flavour to the vanilla and spicy undertones of the Wild Spirit – a hint of Mexican sunshine in a glass.
As well as a Birch and Elderflower Liqueur, there’s also a Birch and Sloe Liqueur, damson pink in colour and bursting with hedgerow leafy freshness.
The Blackthorn is a hedgerow plant producing oval leaves, snow-white flowers and dark purple-blue Sloe berries between August and November. The sloe is like a wild plum but too sour to eat as a fruit, and traditionally picked in Autumn to make homemade jam and jelly, wine and gin.
Birch and Sloe Liqueur has oodles of forest fruit aroma – cherry, plum, blackberry – perfect for sipping with ice or in a flute topped with sparkling wine, Prosecco or Champagne, for a refreshing pink aperitif, like a Kir Royale.
There’s also a slight bittersweet aftertaste reminiscent of Campari. You could therefore adapt the classic Italian cocktail with Birch and Sloe Liqueur and instead of Gin, try Birch and Elderflower Wild Spirit.
25 ml Sloe Liqueur (instead of Campari)
25 ml Gin ……or try Birch and Elderflower Wild Spirit
25ml Sweet Vermouth
Fill a glass three-quarters full with ice. Pour over the spirits. Stir gently until fully chilled. Garnish with an orange twist.
Highland Boundary has invented this fruity tipple in celebration of a natural woodland of trees, fruits and flowers in colourful harmony.
In a glass add some crushed ice and pour in the Birch and Sloe Liqueur together with the lemon juice and elderflower syrup. Stir and add the soda water. Drizzle over the Cherry liqueur at the end, add slice of lemon and serve.
Marian Bruce and Simon Montador are true inspirational entrepreneurs with such a magical, “spiritual” vision through the care of their local environment.
“Never has our reconnection to nature seemed more important and we’re delighted to make our second release botanical spirit. We love to feature new and exciting flavours drawn from iconic Scottish plants around us in Perthshire and it’s a pleasure to create drinks that showcase the fantastic landscape. ”
Highland Boundary Distillery
For information on the distillery, range of award winning Wild Scottish Spirits and Liqueurs, on line purchase, where to buy, serving suggestions and cocktail recipes.
See Chapter 1 for a review of Birch and Elderflower Wild Scottish Spirit and Liqueur.