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Gilbert’s blackberry whisky recipe

blackberries growing on the bush

Blackberries on the bush in various stages of ripeness

If it wasn’t for the fact that he was wearing his battered panama, Jalopy and I would have not noticed Gilbert. He was wearing some sort of camouflage fatigues and carrying a bucket. Curious, we drew to a halt beside him and he swept off his hat with a magnificent bow.

“I suppose you want to know what I am foraging for.” He tipped the bucket towards Jalopy’s open window. It was full of large, succulent blackberries.
Actually, I was far more curious about the fatigues.
“Ah!” He lowered his voice to a whisper, although there was nobody around. “A birthday present from Marjorie. The man from the woods look.”
“But your panama?”
“There is a matching baseball cap. I thought it looked a bit too much like ‘an outfit’.”

I threw some empty paint pots off the front seat and offered him a lift home. He clambered in and sat cradling his bucket. He explained that he was going to make blackberry whisky.

We have tried making blackberry gin and vodka but found that our process (seeping the fruit for a year) seemed to enhance the underlying woodiness of the fruit and it wasn’t a success. Gilbert explained that if you use blackberries for a fruit liqueur the fruit must be removed after three months and then the grog has to be matured for for a year. When we arrived at Gilbert’s house I sampled the 2006 batch. It was delicious.

I think I might have another go at making blackberry vodka and as D loves whisky, I am going to try that too. Meanwhile here is G’s recipe. As we haven’t tried it there is no rubber stamp but I trust Gilbert. He just knows.

Gilbert’s blackberry whisky recipe
Recipe Type: Liqueur
Author: Fiona Nevile
  • 2 kilos of blackberries, gathered on a sunny day
  • 1 x 75ml bottle of whisky – Gilbert says don’t go too cheap here but no need to buy the best
  • 250g of good white cane sugar
  1. In a Le parfait jar/demi john, that is large enough to contain all the ingredients, combine the blackberries, sugar and whisky.
  2. Shake each day until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Then place the jar in a dark place for 3 months.
  4. Strain off the liqueur and store in a cool place for at least a year.

Tips and Tricks

You are free to forage on the hedgerows along the roads. There should be plenty for everyone.

There is no need to trespass to find fruit. If you see bounty it is worth speaking with the owner of the land and negotiating a swap such as a bottle of grog in return for an afternoon’s foraging.

I am eying my neighbours apple trees at the moment as we need extra apples to start our cider making venture this year. Most people just let their fruit drop and rot. They will jump at the chance of a bit of bounty in return for something that they don’t value at all.


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  1. Shiatsu Lucy

    Hi Tom, Not required. I make mine in a Kilner/Le Parfait jar with the lid tightly sealed so I can turn it regularly for the first weeks and then forge about it while the fruit steeps for the first 3 months, and then I pop it in bottles to mature for a year. I’m in Scotland here the fruits c one later on, so 3 months coincides perfectly with Xmas preparations, and a year later, with Christmas celebrations! This stuff can kill a cold dead.

  2. Do you need an air lock on the Demi john

  3. A friend of mine has made blackberry whiskey and has just given me the blackberries from it and I was wondering if I could make jam from the berries and how much of the alcohol would you taste in the jam.

  4. Simon Palastanga

    I’ve tried this recipe several times over the years and it really delivers! Everyone who tries it is impressed by the results. Few other tips though –
    It’s best if you can keep the berries intact throug the process so that the whisky is infusing the flavour and not also getting watered down by he juice. I find it helps to freeze the berries so they are easier to handle and don’t squish when they are being put into the Demi John and being shaken.
    Also mix the whisky and sugar first until the sugar has dissolved then add the fruit.
    One year I used a syphon to bottle a gallon (!) and the liqueur was so clear! There will be sediment, other years I drank it with sediment and it still tasted delicious. It really makes a difference when serving in glasses if you have siphoned, take care when moving it not to disturb the sediment.
    I’ve stored bottles for years and they keep so well, also I use the cheapest whisky I can get.
    Thanks again for the original post, Simon x

  5. Shiatsu Lucy

    I made my ‘Brammle’ (as they say in Glasgow) Whisky Liqueur late last Summer and it is sitting maturing in it’s bottles now, but I just noticed there is a lot of sediment. Maybe I didn’t strain it very well, or maybe I did actually leave the brambles in for a bit longer than 3 months. I wonder, shall I restrain it? Or maybe just leave it for the added fibre benefits? Advice appreciated!

  6. Shereen

    I’ve lost track of how many people I’ve pointed at this recipe over the years. But it’s blackberry season again, and I’m sharing the link to the article around again. So I thought it was only polite to pop in here and say “Thank-you Fiona and Gilbert”.

  7. I have in recent years been making some of these wild fruit liqueurs, damson blackberry etc in whiskey and gin. All very enjoyable -to make and drink. But the cooking using the fruit is the best bit. I use my whiskey blackberries are great in a venison or strong game recipe, I love the gin soaked sloes or damsons in home made mincemeat or Christmas cake/pudding. Vodka/gin raspberries or blackberries are lovely with duck – since starting the fruit drinks my cooking has taken on a whole new depth and wonderful taste – also try them in sorbets (I’m not into ice cream but they might work) Good cooking, brewing, eating and drinking!

  8. Erna Rae

    Boozy blackberries from rum(drained off the liquid and bottled), then soaked again in cream sherry for another 3 months make a decadent topping to pancakes with cream! And I think they would be excellent in trifle but i haven’t tried that yet

  9. Hello folks I picked and produced a a blackberry whiskey from an internet recipe .
    It was last September, it said to leave a year for best results . I was wondering although been alcohol how long does it last , alor am I asking a silky question 🙂
    Thanks David

    • Shiatsu Lucy

      HI David, a long time I think! Many years anyway. If it’s not slurped up pretty quickly then I’ll send you my address and some P and P because it would be an awful shame to waste it!

  10. jaisalmere

    hi kg,a good idea i was told was to take all used fruit,sloes,plums e.t.c and add cheap medium sherry and
    in 3 months this ready to drink,ill be trying this one as soon as my sloe vod and gin is ready/cant keep my hands off it.
    the jam and cake idea sounds good,just try it,thats the fun of making your own stuff,i made some banana brandy(not ready yet,but smells good)only because i had some over ripe bananas and the brandy was cheap.
    best of luck,jaisalmere

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