Blackthorn and Gin
Blackthorn and Gin may not have an obvious link, but after all the research we put into the different varieties of trees used to create our new hedge, see our blog post here, we have discovered a wealth of fascinating tree related trivia.
Take the Blackthorn for example: iconic in relation to Bodmin Moor and featuring in many paintings by local artists, it is one of the most prevalent species around about. It probably takes its name from its dark bark and definitely from its vicious thorns. Blackthorn is hardy which allows it to withstand the moorland gales that twist the trees into those iconic shapes standing in silhouette against the dramatic backdrop of the Tors.
Traditionally, Blackthorn wood is used for making walking-sticks and the Irish shillelagh. It is also reputedly good firewood, burning hot with little smoke but we won’t be testing that on any of our trees!
The round, dark purple fruit, called ‘sloes’ are horribly bitter: better if harvested after the first frost (or popped in the freezer) but still not exactly palatable. However, combined with gin and sugar they make a delicious liqueur. Sloes have also been used to make a lovely pale blue dye which you may discover by chance if you try making your own sloe gin!
There are a number of small artisan gin producers in Cornwall and some do distillery tours which you could explore while staying at Helsbury Park. Only one of the Cornish Gin distilleries seems to make Sloe Gin so if you fancy a short cut made with Cornish sloes check out https://ontherockscornwall.co.uk
A local distillery with highly rated tours is Tarquins at the Southwestern Distillery near Wadebridge. https://www.tarquinsgin.com/tours/
The designated driver gets something to taste at home so you could even sit under a Blackthorn and sip your Cornish gin.