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How to make bramble whisky: recipe for blackberry liqueur

I have been foraging for tasty treats in the woods and hedgerows for years now.

Sloe gin got me started then I moved on to making elderberry wine, rosehip syrup, wild garlic pesto and nettle salt! But last year I discovered the best foraged recipe yet – blackberry, or bramble whisky.

Blackberrying, or brambling, is a fun and fruitful late summer activity. (Tim Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo)
Blackberrying, or brambling, is a fun and fruitful late summer activity. (Tim Gainey / Alamy Stock Photo)

Making bramble whisky could not be simpler. The recipe adapts instantly to any quantity of blackberries. My advice is to pick plenty – it takes a lot of fruit to make a relatively small volume of liqueur. Be sure to leave enough for wildlife though - please follow our responsible foraging guidelines.

Making your own bramble whisky

Ingredients:

  • Blackberries
  • Sugar
  • Whisky

Method:

  1. Place your blackberries in a sealable jar and add about a tenth of their volume in granulated sugar.
  2. Top up with whisky to cover the fruit. A middling supermarket own-brand will be perfect. Definitely don't use an expensive single malt or a premium brand!
  3. The next part is the hardest. You have to leave it for six months somewhere cool and dark, giving it only the occasional shake.
  4. After six months have passed, strain the liquid out of the blackberries. A muslin cloth will catch all of the solids. And have a taste. You can add more sugar at this point. But my advice is to add as little sugar as possible. You want the fruit coming through not just sugary sweetness. You can add more sugar later but you can’t take it out. So gradually does it.
  5. Now bottle your brambly booze
Make sure to leave enough berries for wildlife. (Ben Lee / WTML)
Make sure to leave enough berries for wildlife. (Ben Lee / WTML)

Where and when to pick blackberries

Bramble grows almost anywhere throughout the UK. It is common in woodland, hedges, scrub and wasteland. After flowering from late spring to early summer, fruit ripens and turns black from late July.

Tips and advice

Even if you dislike whisky, I would still recommend you have a go at this recipe, because the resulting tipple does not taste of whisky at all. It comes out magnificently fruity and smooth.

Once you have strained it, don’t throw the fruit away. Having slept in the whisky for six months, the blackberries will be delicious folded through whipped cream and oatmeal to make cranachan, a traditional Scottish dessert. You could also spoon them over ice cream or make into compote.

The whisky will improve the longer you leave it, so try to resist for at least a further three months. I am told that it will keep getting better year after year if you have the willpower to leave it be!

Bramble whisky is delicious sipped neat but you can also make a refreshing long drink by serving it over ice with soda water or lemonade.
If you only make one foraged treat this year make it bramble whisky. You won’t be disappointed!

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