‘I’m per­fect­ing my Christ­mas Tree Gin’

Prima (UK) - - Ladies Who Launch -

The fruit gins Beth Pater­son, 31, cre­ates at her fam­ily farm in Brain­tree, Es­sex, are per­fect win­ter warm­ers

‘The clink­ing of glasses at Christ­mas has al­ways been a joy­ful sound, but since I started mak­ing flavoured gins, it’s be­come all the more spe­cial.

Hav­ing been brought up on the fam­ily farm, Slam­seys, I have fond child­hood mem­o­ries of help­ing Mum pick sloes to make flavoured gin for fam­ily and friends. But it didn’t cross my mind as a busi­ness ven­ture un­til much later in life.

As an adult, a not-so-happy stint in prop­erty man­age­ment taught me that of­fice-based jobs and work­ing for other peo­ple were two ca­reer choices I didn’t want. So in 2011, I be­gan look­ing back to the farm I’d grown up on for al­ter­na­tive ideas. Re­call­ing the days spent with my mother pick­ing sloes, and know­ing how pop­u­lar gin was be­com­ing, I had my light­bulb mo­ment – why not see if I could make a liv­ing from cre­at­ing my own brand?

Black­ber­ries and sloe trees al­ready grew in the fields at the farm, so they were my first in­gre­di­ents. I also planted rasp­berry bushes. It was a long and care­ful process, but by the fol­low­ing year I was able to pick, wash and add the three fruits to pre­mi­umqual­ity gin. I left each to soak for a few months, drained them and bot­tled them. We had a fam­ily tast­ing and we were ex­cited about how de­li­cious they were. The fruity, home­grown flavours were like noth­ing we’d tasted be­fore – so much nicer than su­per­mar­ket gin. I had my first three flavours of in­fused gins.

My hus­band Matthew and I be­gan sell­ing the gin at lo­cal farm­ers’ mar­kets, food shows and coun­try events, test­ing the wa­ters by of­fer­ing free sam­ples, which were al­ways grate­fully re­ceived! There was so much in­ter­est that I had to set up a web­site. I called the gin Slam­seys, named af­ter the farm, and be­gan sell­ing bot­tles from £22.50.

I spent the next few years grow­ing all sorts to try out dif­fer­ent flavours. Some, such as plum and straw­berry gin, were a big suc­cess. Oth­ers, such as goose­berry, I haven’t been able to per­fect just yet.

FAM­ILY FRIENDLY

The best thing about my work is that I can fit it all around be­ing a mother. I now have three small chil­dren, Ewan, Finn and Heidi, who’ve had many naps in the or­chards while I’ve been pick­ing fruit.

I’m per­fect­ing a recipe for Christ­mas Tree Gin, as we have a ready supply of Christ­mas trees on the farm. The rest of our sea­sonal range in­cludes Sloe Gin and Mar­malade Gin, which are the most pop­u­lar at this time of year. We sell it in the farm’s fes­tive gift shop. The beau­ti­ful la­bels mean they make great presents, al­though cus­tomers some­times come back just be­fore we close for Christ­mas to re-buy the bot­tle they bought as a gift and ended up drink­ing them­selves!

While the lead up to Christ­mas is hec­tic, I make sure my fam­ily re­mem­bers what it’s all about: spend­ing time to­gether. I really look for­ward to fi­nally putting my feet up with them this year, and hav­ing a glass of sloe gin next to the fire!’ • slam­seys.co.uk

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