The Essence of Larch
Standing proud in our hillside landscapes is a tree you may have dismissed, but we guarantee you’ve come across before. The European larch otherwise known as Larix decidua is unique because it is the only deciduous conifer in our country. It can grow up to a mighty 42 metres tall in its mature age, offering surrounding wildlife such as squirrels, birds and insects a safe place to call home.
Where does larch come from?
Originating from the pine family, the larch tree we know in the UK can be traced back to central Europe. The species was introduced on British soil hundreds of years ago for people to harvest it as strong and durable timber. Larch thrives in cooler temperatures so is well populated in the northern hillsides and mountain ranges of Europe, Asia and North America.
How does larch react with our senses?
To touch, the larch tree is a playground of various textures and visuals. In Spring the branches of the tree become emblazoned in dainty soft needles reaching only a couple of centimetres long. The female flower of the larch will bloom as a small green bud often tinged with pink before fully ripening into brown cones much like pinecones only smaller and softer to touch. All summer the larch will carry a shade of luscious bright green (the colour we have chosen to feature on our label) before turning a glorious gold in the Autumn. Larch is the only pine tree to shed its needles in the Autumn.
To taste, larch is quite the botanical underdog to the better-known juniper used in gin – but we all love a great underdog. You may not expect such an exciting complexity of flavours to come from such a seemingly ordinary tree in our woodlands. But, that’s the beauty of using natural ingredients! There are always a few hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.
We take the larch buds through lengthy maceration and distillation processes lasting months and the flavour they create for the spirit is quite unique. In our final spirit, we combine the larch with a touch of honeysuckle. This final spirit offers a light, vanilla and fruity aroma that leads through to a surprisingly smooth, citrus and light-spicy tasting spirit that lingers long on the palate. This deep and complex spirit holds a delicious intensity to it.
What flavours compliment larch?
Larch is not a heavily tried and tested ingredient in the world of spirits so we’ve been having some fun experimenting with complementary flavours.
The flavoursome larch with its punch of spice mellows well with the sweetness of honeysuckle. To truly experience this explosion of botanical flavour in your mouth, serve the spirit as a nip and wait as each individual flavour unravels leaving a lasting taste.
Add a little fizz into the mix and serve the larch and honeysuckle with soda, ginger ale or tonic with ice and a slice of lemon or lime to garnish.
Feeling creative? Swap gin or vodka in one of your favourite refreshing cocktails for our larch and honeysuckle spirit to try something completely new.
Larch tree in mythology
It is said that in European folklore the grand larch tree was seen as having protective powers against evil spirits. Its natural force would come alive when burned or when worn on the human body.
Specifically, in Siberian and Lapp mythology the larch was recognised as the ‘world tree'. ‘Shamans’ of the past were people who could reach and connect to the good and evil spirits and influence their actions through rituals. So, the wood of the larch tree, with such mighty symbolism, was often used by shamans or constructing the drums used in such ceremonies and practices.