Posted 14th Jul 2017
A new gin is set to offer a welcome boost for Hertfordshire rivers
The gin will include flowers from Himalayan balsam, which is being cleared by Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust volunteers as part of river conservation work. The plant 'escaped' to the countryside from gardens in the 1800s, and can smother riverbanks, along with damaging the delicate ecosystems.
Now, a local distillery, Puddingstone Distillery, will use pink flowers as a key ingredient in its new rosy tinted gin, with £2 donated from each bottle sold to the Wildlife Trust.
David Johnston, Herts and Middlesex Living Rivers Officer, said: "It’s a perfect partnership, the Himalayan balsam, which damages our riverbanks, is pulled and used to colour the gin, which in turns raises funds for us to continue further conservation work."
Hertfordshire is home to a number of globally rare chalk rivers, and Himalayan balsam poses a constant threat to the health of these rivers.
The inspiration for the gin came from Puddingstone Distillery, which moved next to Herts and Middlesex Tring Reservoirs Nature Reserve, and owners Ben and Kate met staff from the Wildlife Trust.
The gin is to be launched at the Trust's Festival of Wildlife at the end of July, and will feature wildlife walks and talks, along with a host of family friendly activities.
Himalayan balsam was introduced in the 1800s as a garden plant, but escaped to grow vigorously in the wild, especially along river banks, to the general detriment of native species. It flowers from July onwards.