‘I’m perfecting my Christmas Tree Gin’
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.
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