Oh, sod off, winter!


I don’t know, we have spring in November, a whole year’s rain in December and now, March, we have snow. Had snow. Had snow a few miles inland; here we had sleet. Oh, all right, I know, global warming, the scary though temporary ‘achievement’ of the 2% above normal temperature recently (that’s the target which is critical, ahem, and it will be back), melting glaciers – and here I am complaining about it being a bit chilly. But it is.

However, poo to glaciers, here in west Wales we have achieved peak gravel, even though it’s still bedding down and is about as stable to walk on as marshmallow (similar to some glaciers, perhaps). And there was only half a sack left over, too. (Who was right? Hm? Who would that have been? Hm? HMM?)

But it is revolting, cold, crappy, raining, drizzling, nasty, vile, horrible and therefore, in a spirit of generosity, I am sharing my blackberry whisky recipe, as requested on the #gdnbloggers twitter thing a week ago Sunday. Just make sure you know where the recipe is when it’s August or September. I spent so long looking for another scribbled recipe once that the elders I’d located were reduced to sticks and occasional dead leaves.


It’s award winning, too, if you count a first place at the village show as an award. I do. After all, if anybody and everybody can describe anything from black pudding to shirts as ‘award winning’ then so can I. Hrrupmf. (It’s the big bottle at the front, with the purple label. What, pray, is the point of a small bottle?)

Crabby today? Moi?

Anyway, you need a tribe of small children, and possibly you need to wear a snood and not be male (these pickers are foraging in WW2, so all the men were away),

blackberry picking in WW2

and end up with a kilo of ripe blackberries.

You then need a couple of huge Kilner or Le Parfait jars – other brands of airtight storage bottles are available – half a kilo of sugar and a litre of whisky. Cheap whisky is just fine; in fact, it’s better. Pick over the blackberries and wash any wildlife off; divide the berries between the jars. Divide the sugar between the jars too, and then slosh in the whisky. Seal the jars well, and then turn them over. Store in a dark place, and turn them a couple of times a week for the first month or so.

I know people who decant their whisky for Christmas, but I prefer to leave mine for longer; the 2015 crop is still in its jars and will remain so until late summer and the foraging of the next lot. I also know people who purée the sodden blackberries and make an ice-cream topping, but I’ve tried that and prefer to put them in the compost.

Drain the whisky carefully, preferably through muslin – and you may need to do this twice. Put it into clean, sterile bottles (an oven at 100 degrees is a good way to sterilise a bottle) and enjoy. It is fabulous over ice, drunk beside a roaring stove while snow falls outside. Just saying.

blackberry whisky

Tried to take a pic with the light shining through to reveal the gorgeous colour, but the light wouldn’t cooperate. Grumble, grumble, chunter. Again. Ahem.

And – if you have easy access to elderberries, which I curiously do not, there’s a recipe for a similar elderberry elixir over on my food blog, Twelve Miles from a Lemon. It’s great for colds, probably because of the high Vit C content. Or maybe it’s the rum.

And sometimes I do manage to forget the weather and the mud aka meadow, because the Viburnum bodnantense is flowering and I just have to go up there for a noseful… squish, squish, oh great, thanks, Next Door’s Cat, ex-mouse, squish…


Incidentally, I haven’t joined in with the tree following meme yet because I can’t decide what tree to follow. I thought it might be my apples, but they’re difficult to photograph. I’m currently auditioning the ginkgo. And grumbling.


14 Comments Add yours

  1. And here I was picking all those blackberries and freezing them for buckles, and crisps, and other yummy baked goods, when I could have been concocting some delicious and fruity blackberry whiskey! I’ll put this on my ‘to do’ list for late summer, for sure!

    1. kate says:

      I’ve even given up crumble (well, after one or two). You don’t get the seeds stuck in your teeth when it’s whisky!

  2. lovely fun post Kate- I know only too well about the gravel spread – one can easily be over-optimistic to save hauling yet another bag. Am with you on the tree following – none being auditioned but talent scout is out and about Love the idea of this recipe and hence the RT – congrats on prize winning.
    This curmudgeonly Londoner just knew winter was not going to go quietly but Easter bunny is supposed to hailhale the spring!

    1. kate says:

      Hah on the hail – well, more of a bitter laugh really.
      Everyone I’ve spoken to about gravel says ‘way to go’ on three tons, except P who thought I’d gone mad. But then again, I didn’t have to spread it….

  3. croftgarden says:

    Oh what a perfect gravel path! I am sure the pain was worth it.
    Lucky you if next door’s cat only deposits dead mice! I’d better not say anymore, but it is probably not a good idea for the Cats Protection League to send me anymore begging letters.
    A friend of mine makes delicious chutney using the fruit strained from sloe gin – delicious but best taken in medicinal quantities.
    Another classic epistle from wild Wales – thank you.

    1. kate says:

      The only problem with the gravel – as it’s not bedded down yet – is that you sink into it, so it’s footprint central. Even the NDC sinks into it, though mercifully he hasn’t deposited anything other than footprints. His mother was hunting something yesterday and made so much noise on the gravel that whatever it was (I couldn’t see the target) evidently either flew off or ran away, because she returned a couple of seconds later without anything. An unexpected advantage…?

  4. Cathy says:

    Yes, Great Gravel – well, with a bit of bedding down, perhaps! It’s easy to see the effect your medicinal blackberry whisky and elderberry liqeur have on you, Kate, when I read your posts – and I am always amused by your tags too eg ‘swearing and throwing things’… 🙂

    1. kate says:

      Sometimes swearing and throwing things is the only tag that seems appropriate (though the sun has shone today, mind)…!

  5. Angie says:

    I wake up in a grumpy mood regularly at the moment and I can’t explain why. I am sick fed up folks telling me it’s my age!
    I’ve a friend who loves a dram or four – I must give her your recipe. It sounds right up her street.

    1. kate says:

      I think it’s endofwinteritis, not age. It’s not been a proper winter and those of us who haven’t gone diwn with plague / cholera / typhus or whatever else the kids bring home from school are suffering from that. Or at least that’s what my doc thinks…

      Blackberry whisky probably a solution. Must try it. Now.

  6. Ah yes, I remember that wallowing on gravel feeling – looks good though! And thank you for the giggle, you were clearly impressively grumpy! Your brambly whisky recipe sounds rather good, though I can rarely be bothered to gather blackberries nowadays, I am turning into a lazy slob, I fear. But if you are going to bother, I agree, don’t use a tidgy bottle, unless you are parcelling out for presents and want it to stretch!!

    (Grammarly doesn’t like ‘tidgy’. Tough. Mind you, grammarly quite correctly doesn’t enjoy most of my writing! I might have to start trying for a record number of little red numbers…)

    1. kate says:

      Still wallowing, and walking up one path is rather like walking up a scree slope on a wild hillside somewhere. But it’s getting there. Ish….

      Got a recipe last night for cherries in rum. First, grow your cherries.

  7. hillwards says:

    You missed a bit? 😉 Looks great, and I like the sound of those throat-warmers too, perfect for rotten weather.

    1. kate says:

      Hee hee!
      Hopefully the weather is on the up – hmm, just heard the forecast and I think it may be back to vests. For the baby broad beans, not me… fortunately there’s a whole bottle of blackberry whisky waiting!

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