Summer is definitely on its way and with the warmer weather comes al fresco dining, entertaining and, of course, delicious fruity cocktails!
We’re delighted to welcome local North Yorkshire company, Sloe Motion, into Weetons on Saturday 18th June to sample some of their locally produced tipples. With an extensive range of fruity liqueurs and summer cups all created from hedgerow fruits, we’re sure you’ll enjoy taste testing. We’re especially keen to try the Sloemotion No.7 – BBC TV presenter Kate Humble says ‘it’s sunshine in a glass’!
To find out more about Sloe Motion, we chatted to Managing Director, Jonathan Curtoys, and discovered what it’s like to live ‘life on the hedge’.
1.Please tell us about your business. How and when did you start your business and is there a story behind it?
Founded in 2002, Sloemotion is a family business based on the edge of the Howardian Hills near Malton in North Yorkshire, producing a range of premium quality hedgerow fruit liqueurs. With our roots firmly in the British countryside from our farming background, Sloemotion is an award winning (e.g. World Gin Awards & Great Taste Awards) business with a passion for creating high quality products such as Sloe Gin, Bramble Whisky, & Cherry Brandy following traditional recipes using hedgerow berries. Once the drinks are made we use the spirit-infused fruit – too good to throw away - for our delicious chutneys and Belgian chocolates.
The company began almost by accident, after introducing farm conservation methods aimed at encouraging wildlife, especially cutting hedges less often - hence our moto, Life on the Hedge! This led to large amounts of sloes being produced. We’d already begun making foods from our oats and wheat, so the idea of making sloe gin, something we’d always done at home, began to develop and Sloemotion was born.
We now supply about 500 farm shops and delis all over the UK, but especially in our native Yorkshire.
2. What products do you supply to Weetons?
Sloe Gin, Damson Gin, Mini 2-bottle gift packs & our Yorkshire Fruit Cup, No.7.
3. How long have you been supplying Weetons?
Since November 2009.
4. Do you have any top tips on how to best use/eat/enjoy your products?
Sloe Gin and our other liqueurs are traditionally enjoyed neat as a digestif with pudding but also as a winter warmer from a hip flask on a cold day. Both Sloe Gin and Damson Gin are also popular cocktail ingredients, for example a delicious ‘Sloe or Damson Royale’ – a shot of either liqueur topped up with Prosecco or Champagne – a perfect way to start a party or add a kick to any celebration.
Our Yorkshire Fruit Cup, No.7 is served like all fruit cups with a sparkling mixer, generally lemonade but elderflower presse is also a delicious alternative. We also add seasonal fruits, lots of ice and mint. For those willing to forage a little further elderflower or cherry blossom make for colourful and flavoursome additions.
5. What do you think makes Weetons unique?
Weetons adds an element of chic to Harrogate town centre – it is ideally located near the heart of the town and has a superior interior and café, with shelves lined with a great array of produce.
6. What sets your business apart from competitors?
The taste of our products is our key selling point. We actively promote tastings at 40-50 consumer and trade shows and over 300 in-store tastings every year. When we're not there to offer samples, customers need to know that the products are high quality so annually we enter competitions such as Great Taste and World Gin Awards and then highlight all our (regular) wins on pack. Furthermore, our products need to look great to encourage customers to look at them. So, we spend a significant budget on professional graphic design and photography each year.
7.What are you most passionate about?
We are most passionate about making great tasting, elegantly packaged products. We will only ever use whole fruit and will always steep to allow flavours to mature. But the environment is also a huge influence on what we do e.g. the spent fruit from the liqueurs is used to make chocolates and chutneys, even our sample cups are biodegradeable! And, hedgerows - where we came from - remain the source of inspiration and innovation; our ingredients, as well as sloes and damsons, also include novel hedgerow ingredients such as nettles, crab apples and even bramble leaves.
8. What are your plans for the future?
Our aim is clear: to be the UK’s leading Sloe Gin brand within the next 5 years.
9. Who would you most like to have dinner with and why?
I'd have Ottolenghi doing the cooking, but I can't make up my mind up who it would be with; either Jonathan Franzen (novelist), Frank Auerbach (artist), Justin Vernon (musician) or Emmanuelle Beart (Actor). Emmanuelle would probably get the nod!
10. What is your favourite piece of Yorkshire?
Leoni's Coffee Shop in Malton.