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Scotch whisky has always been the main focus of this website but from time to time I like to cast my net a little wider and see what other interesting drinks are out there. Conveniently, my thirst for something different could be slaked by a liqueur that had been perching on top of my drinks cabinet since the tail end of last year. Aelder is a product of The Buck & Birch, a popup restaurant that has been providing diners in and around Edinburgh with the very best of Scottish food since 2008.
Founded by farmers, foragers and fishermen, Tom Chisholm and Rupert Waites, the Buck & Birch was designed to showcase all that they could source from the wild Scottish landscape around them, demonstrating just how exciting Scottish ingredients could be. The pair began to curate menus packed full of items that were shaped by nature and hand-harvested, using only the most traditional of methods.
A small project that was born over a pint of beer after a walk in the woods, the Buck & Birch has gone on to host hundreds of guests, taken home countless awards and worked with industry leaders, world renowned chefs and bar tenders and even appeared in everything from feature films to TV and Radio. What began as a small operation in a garden shed has become a global enterprise with its own purpose-built production facility.
Naturally the two men felt they should create a drinks menu to compliment their food and a unique liqueur was created by infusing blended scotch whisky with wild elderberries and other foraged botanicals. Designed to be consumed on its own, in a cocktail or topped up with champagne, the liquid proved so popular that dining guests began asking to take some home and so, their “Wild Elderberry Elixir” was born.
Bottled at an approachable 17% alcohol by volume, Aelder retails at £25 for a 50cl bottle.
Smell: Reminds me of the mulled wine you get in little plastic cups at the Glasgow Christmas markets… (makes mental note to warm it up when winter sets in). Plums and blackcurrant. Blueberries. Elderberry (obviously). I don’t pick up much of the whisky certainly, perhaps a slightly woody backbone to it all.
Taste: Now that’s interesting. Much more balanced than the nose. The fruitiness remains but there’s some oak and vanilla and the gentlest of spices giving a little structure and depth.
Value for Money: 50cl bottles continue to drive me to distraction but at £25, even I would struggle to conjure up too much of a moan.
As always, I have nosed and tasted the liqueur neat and whilst it is perfectly pleasant when consumed in that way, I suspect that isn’t how most people would drink it – myself included. Instead I’m looking forward to playing around and trying it with ice, with soda, in cocktails and even, as mentioned above, in a mulled winter warmer. Its bold flavour profile, coupled with the whisky base should make for some really interesting concoctions – and all that fun for just £25.
*If the liqueur reviewed in this article has caught your eye, you can buy it from Master of Malt here. Please be aware that as an affiliate I can be paid a small commission on any purchases you make after following links from my page. The whisky is also available from several other excellent retailers.
For more on Aelder Liqueur visit here.