Whinberries are wild mountain blueberries that grow all across the Shropshire Hills. They are also known as bilberries, whortleberries, blaeberries, and dozens of other regional names. People have been gathering them for centuries to use in jams, jellies, tarts and pies. Because of their intense colour, they were also often used to dye textiles. As a fruit, they have an intense fruity flavour, quite tart and fresh.
Foraging whinberries is gruelling work because they grow in scrubby little bushes very low to the ground. I use a berry comb to gently comb the fruits out of the scrub, working mostly on my knees. That’s only part of the job, as it takes several more hours to then clean up the berries and select the best ones.
This liqueur uses the same method as a sloe gin but with a different underlying fruit. The result is a truly luscious drink. You can enjoy it almost any way that you would enjoy a sloe gin, although this drink is arguably much fruitier. A bit of ice makes for a pleasant sipping drink on its own. Or splash a bit of whinberry gin into a glass and pour Prosecco over for a delightfully fizzy pink cocktail.
However you enjoy it, whinberry gin is a true treat from the Shropshire Hills. This liqueur is unfiltered and may contain small bits of fruit pulp.