Joining a foraging trip
Last week I had the honour of joining a foraging trip for Irish craft distillery Glendalough. For anyone with a remote interest in botannicals, the countryside, Ireland or alcohol this would be a dream day out – add the fact that I am a florist (who loves gin) and I can honestly say this was an unforgettable experience.
The Glendalough distillery are relocating to the Glendalough estate located about an hours drive out of Dublin (but about a million light years away from the City) in the Wicklow countryside. It is a magical area full of lush greenery, natural running springs, crystal lakes and heather strewn hills. The estate itself has over 1500 acres to it’s armoury. And it is the sole job of Geraldine, the distillery’s chief forager to walk the lands each day armed with her trusty (hand woven) wicker basket foraging for botannicals, berries and fruits to add to the juniper berries and coriander seeds that make up the base of the comapnies seasonal gin. Each season tastes different due to the varying Irish weather and with only 3000 bottles ever produced you know you are tasting something truly special!
What you learn
We learnt so much! Namely (and in no particular order…):
- Do not eat foxgloves, not even a nibble
- If you are feeling down, make yourself a St Johns Wart tea – a natural anti-depressant
- Clover tastes good – and makes Gin taste better
- Yarrow tastes delicious AND it’s great to stop bleeding
- Lemon verbena tastes so like lemon it could be a lemon
After our foraging trip through the glades our fabulous tour guide and long standing Glendalough employee Eoin took us along to the distillery where their rather impressive looking Holstein copper still (like something out of Harry Potter) was being fired up and ready to go by the lovely Rowdy!
We were able to add the botanicals we had foraged that day straight to the still and watch it being mixed in, turning to bubbles and smelling divine! Once the experts deemed it possible we were able to taste it as it came out, changing every few seconds we could track the flavours as the alcohol level came down.
Dublin night life
That evening we were taken around Dublin with Eoin who gave us a taste of the Dublin night life kicking off with a rather delicious pint of Guiness followed by fabulous cocktails using the Glendalough spring gin at the wonderful Peruke & Periwig a former wig shop adding to the magic!
All in all one of the most memorable days of 2016, it has inspired me as a florist to think more about where the flowers and foliages we use every day comes from, what else it can be used for, how it grows and as a person thinking about how all the things we walk past every day are linked to things we eat, drink and use on a daily basis!
And there facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/GlendaloughDistillery
A huge thanks to all at Glendalough and to Holland who invented gin in the early 17th century.
Floral Event Manager for Ricky Paul Flowers Ltd
Note: Please make sure you seek advice from a trained expert before eating anything you have foraged yourself!