The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

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.


  Leave a reply


  1. made the B whisky its delicious, will do it again. also the blackberries after soaking are a knockout afterwards. anyone used them in any recipies etc?

  2. Sally Parrott Ashbrook

    Good info! Thanks.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Ann,

    Sorry your comment was picked up as spam so I have only just found it.

    We have made b;ackberry gin and vodka. The only way to get around the woody taste is to leave the blackberries in the gin/vodka for a maximum of 3 months.

  4. ann clark

    I have made very delicious blackberry brandy this year by juicing the fruit in a double boiler first. I am very keen to make Blackberry Gin and/or Vodka. Do you think this may be a good idea for the Gin to take away some of the woody taste? There is no woodyness with the brandy just a little sweet I think but very drinkable. Look forward to your thoughts

    Ann Clark

  5. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Kate,

    Commercially grown blackberries are expensive in the UK too. It is probably because they take so long to pick – 5lbs (just over 2 kilos) would take me 2-3 hours.

    This is what impressed me about this liqueur. A massive amount of blackberries are infused in just one bottle of whisky. I am going to try making it just to see the difference. Our blackberry vodka/gin uses well under a pound of blackberries.

  6. This sounds delicious. My eyes lighted on the blackberries in your photograph. Blackberries are hard to grow here and are rare … about a cup of them costs a small fortune.

  7. Fiona Nevile

    I think that you might be on to something here, Richard. Until I met Gilbert last week I had given up on blackberry liqueurs. Infused for a year they were just too woody. Looking forward to reading your post!

  8. Richard

    I’ll be blogging about blackberry vodka sometime over the next few days. I found you can get a good infusion after just a couple of weeks – though I’m leaving my current batch a bit longer. It makes a great hedgerow kir I discovered at the weekend!
    The whisky sounds like an interesting idea…

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Yes they do, Hedgewizard. You need to remove the sticky deposit left with white spirit and wash them again. If you do this in batches, it’s not too bad.

    I now use the Avery labels as they seem to be a bit stronger and if you are only printing a few at a time the sheets are happy to be put through the printer again and again.

  10. hedgewizard

    I’m going to have a go at a raspberry gin recipe that also uses flaked almonds today, and just read your labels entry from last October. By now you should know – do the WHS labels soak off all right?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,237,416 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder