Guided by our friend and local plant expert Amanda Saurin, we continue to explore the joys of our Outer Hebridean island’s indigenous flora with the release of our third apothecary creation.
Following on from our Harris Wild Rose and Harris Wild Gorse tinctures of last year, we’re celebrating the arrival of spring with a new small-batch recipe made with meadowsweet.
Hand-picked in south Harris, Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) is an ancient Hebridean brewing plant and the mainstay of this new tincture.
Also known as Mead Wort, it’s a perennial herb in the rose family (Rosaceae) with sweet-smelling flowers which thrive best in damp grasslands and along the banks of streams and rivers.
The plant begins to grow in spring and will soon be in full bloom as the warmer months arrive, displaying densely packed sprays of tiny creamy-white flowers standing atop tall green stems.
Known for generations as a natural medicine, meadowsweet was renowned for reducing fevers and pain. It was particularly useful here in Harris where the cold, wet weather often tested people’s joint health.
Further afield, in medieval France it was a key component of Four Thieves Vinegar, used by robbers to protect themselves from the plague, eventually becoming so popular that the recipe was posted on the walls of Marseille!
Meadowsweet is also a renowned anti-inflammatory, containing small amounts of salicylic acid. It was one of the plants, along with willow bark, which was used to make the first aspirin in the nineteenth century.
But, the Harris Meadowsweet Tincture we share today simply contains this fine local herb alongside lemon and a sweetened plum ‘shrub’, much prized for balancing digestion.
When neat it gives a big burst of lemon on the nose. Sharp, sweet, and slightly floral, it works in tandem with darker undertones of plum, grapes and blackcurrant.
Once added to Isle of Harris Gin, pine and floral flavours come to the fore, twinned with lingering citrus with more strong hints of plum and blackcurrant, fading to pleasant floral flavours which invite another sip.
Add anything from a few drops to a dropper-full of this lovely liquid to Harris G&Ts and martinis, or just have fun experimenting with it in any of your other favourite serves.
We think our new tincture does a fantastic job of evoking the unique tastes and scents of an island spring as we look towards the better days of summer.
If you’d like to experience the magic of our island's meadowsweet yourself this season, it’s now available to order online from our website while stocks last.