The Forest of Bowland Distilled

13 June 2019

Wild herb-infused limited edition Hay Time Gin will help re-gin-erate wildflower meadows across the county

A limited edition seasonal gin distilled with wild herbs, grasses and blooms from some of the richest wildflower meadows in England will be launched at a celebration of traditional hay meadows in Slaidburn next month.

Goosnargh Gin will unveil this specially distilled small-batch craft gin on National Meadow Day at Bell Sykes Farm, Slaidburn on Saturday, July 6.

Proprietors Richard and Rachel Trenchard have been working with farmer Peter Blackwell and Forest of Bowland AONB Farming and Wildlife officer Sarah Robinson to source and harvest a blend of wild herbs, grasses and flowers to impart distinct verdant tones to the finished gin.

“We’re keeping the exact blend a secret, but we have used a flowers, grasses and leaves from species like meadow vetchling, sweet vernal grass, red clover and yellow rattle to distil the Hay Time gin, giving it the unique essence of Bowland,” explained Rachel.

“We hope a sip of this carefully distilled gin – served with tonic and an appropriate garnish – will transport you straight to these exceptionally special and ecologically significant Bowland meadows on a sunny summer’s day – alive with birdsong and the gentle background hum of bees.”

The enterprising couple already have a couple of bottlings under their belt – both of which were inspired by the stunning landscapes of Bowland. For every bottle of Hay Time gin sold, Richard and Rachel will donate £5 to projects in the Forest of Bowland, to encourage the education of young children about the importance of protecting these areas.

The wildflower-rich Coronation Meadows at Bell Sykes Farm act as a living seedbank – one of the last unimproved flower-rich grasslands in this part of Lancashire. Established by HRH Prince Charles in 2013 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen, Coronation Meadows are a network of some 90 protected wildflower meadows which maintain a living seedbank to provide a springboard for the restoration and creation of new sites across the country.

These very special meadows encourage the growth of native species and are home to iconic northern upland species including meadow crane’s-bill and melancholy thistle along with a colourful mix of yellow rattle, eyebrights, pignut, buttercups and lady’s mantle.

Peter lets the grasses grow much longer before cutting and bailing, so that the seeds can develop and then be used to regenerate wildflower meadows elsewhere.

“Peter’s meadows really are some of the finest examples of upland unimproved grassland anywhere in England,” said Sarah. “They typically produce around 10 times the variety of species you’d find in more intensively cropped meadows and attract a whole host of insects and pollinators to create a really rich base to the food chain.

“Until now, Peter’s sheep and cattle have been the primary beneficiaries of this rich oasis of biodiversity, but with the first bottling of this very special gin, we humans can discover what we’ve been missing… and help safeguard the future of this vitally important habitat.”

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