Wild Absinthe - garden to glass
Although the image of Scotland is entwined with its biggest export, at home a grassroots gastronomic revolution has been quietly progressing for the last decade or so.
Lighting little fires everywhere, food and drink producers have established craft businesses based on our diverse natural larder with a local market in mind. A trend heavily influenced by the Nordic Food Movement and its Lab founded by Head chef of Noma René Redzepi, and whose starting point was the biocultural diversity of Scandinavia.
Sweetdram is an artisan drinks distillery established in 2014 by two master’s graduates of Heriot Watt University, Andrew MacLeod Smith and Daniel Fisher. They wanted to create a modern, drinks brand made in Scotland that focused on original flavours rather than conventional categories and repetitive trends.
They now make a range of such spirits at their Sighthill distillery including a whisky series, a gin-like spirit Escubac, a spiced rum and their latest creation, Wild Absinthe. But forget lurid green liquid and fairies, this is a thoroughly modern take on the notorious Fin de Siècle concoction. A lighter, more approachable drink where the green influence comes from the sustainable ethos and practices of Sweetdram.
Sweetdram's Wild Absinthe is made using botanicals from the distillery’s edible garden or foraged nearby. Those botanicals are sea wormwood, wild fennel, bay, santolina, horseradish leaf, marigold, eucalyptus, lemon verbena, purple sage, anise hyssop, sweet cicely. The garden is tended by the local bike-powered female duo ‘Radicle Gardens’. Furthermore, distillery waste is composted or recycled, and Dan and Andrew use a state-of-the-art recirculating chiller to cool their condensers, saving around two million litres of water waste each year.
“Utilising our outdoor space, and working with Radicle Gardens, has been a really exciting project. It has provided me with additional creativity in my distilling, and real ownership of the process ‘garden to glass’; none of our other products have had such a short supply chain and that’s been really rewarding for everyone involved.”
“Things have moved on in the industry since we first set up Sweetdram, and there are so many more options available to ensure our sustainability goals can be met. We have very environmentally friendly aspirations, but as we all know, it’s a journey rather than something we can change overnight. This absinthe release offers us a great testing bed, and an important first step, towards some of those goals.”
Wild Absinthe is a first for Edinburgh and can be drunk poured over ice until it ‘louches’ (clouds), turning oily and sweet, or mixed in classic cocktails, like the Corpse Reviver or Sazerac. You will spot it on the best back bars in the city by its pretty label designed by local illustrator Jack Fletcher. (S. Wilson)
Wild Absinthe launched on September 28th. It is available online at www.sweetdram.com
Colour - Light green/cloudy mint (diluted)
Nose - Raw fennel, lavender Palate - Liquorice Allsorts, pine oil, cardamom buns Finish - Camphor, menthol
Zest in the Afternoon - a cocktail devised by Scottish Mixology (see on Insta)
Sweetdram Wild Absinthe
Ginger, lemongrass, aloe syrup