Lavandula, or lavender as we call it, is a sweetly-fragranced, purple-flowered perennial that belongs to the mint family. Come June each year, thousands flock to the South of France to admire the violet-hued fields of Provence, but did you know that the Cotswolds is also home to some beautifully enchanting fields of lavender? As we approach the season when the flower is in full bloom, we thought we’d take a moment to look back on our visit to nearby Cotswold Lavender this time last year, where the lavender we use to make our Cotswolds Dry Gin is grown.
The fragrant fields of Cotswold Lavender can be found on the hills surrounding the village of Snowshill, not far from Broadway and less than half an hour’s drive from the distillery. The farm on which the lavender is grown has belonged to the same family for three generations, but it wasn’t until 1999 that the family decided to start a new venture growing the plant. The free draining limestone soil found in the Cotswolds is ideal for growing lavender and the family now grows more than 500,000 plants and over 40 different varieties! Around this time of year the flowers usually begin to appear and the farm opens up to visitors who are welcome to roam around the wonderfully-scented fields just before the lavender is harvested (please note: it is currently closed to visitors in light of COVID-19). On the farm, the team extracts the essential oils from the harvested lavender using a simple process known as steam distillation. Once the oil is collected, it is used to make a range of luxurious products, from teas and chocolates, to bath and skincare products, some of which we sell in our shops.
Here at the Cotswolds Distillery we try to source ingredients as locally as possible, and so back in 2014 when we were devising the recipe for our Cotswolds Dry Gin, we were delighted to be able to use locally grown lavender as one of the key botanicals. When it comes to making our gin, we add the lavender to our London Dry base with the rest of the botanicals before slowly beginning distillation. As our gin is non-chill filtered, the essential oils released from the lavender and the other botanicals are retained instead of being stripped out, which gives our gin its distinctive, cloudy appearance when ice or tonic is added and results in a lovely, silky mouthfeel. The soft notes of lavender in our Cotswolds Dry Gin shine through, and we believe its bright character lifts our full-bodied gin. If you’d like to accentuate the delicate notes of lavender, then why not try adding a sprig of lavender from the garden or a couple drops of our lavender bitters next time you’re making a Cotswolds Cloudy G&T!