We love nettles here at the Distillery Garden! Nettle has so many uses and is actually very tasty, you just need to try a nettle soup in the Spring to taste its goodness.
We grow and encourage our nettle population at the Secret Garden. The nettles come out in abundance and the best flavours come from young, fresh, leaf tips as they are full of crisp and complex flavours. Yes, they do sting but in Spring it is more like a tingle and look for the dock plants that often grow in abundance next to the nettles. When dock leaves are crushed in your hand and rubbed on the nettle sting you get immediate relief! True!
In our drying room, we experience the most vibrant green from our nettles, and it is easy to see why they were used as a dye and for making rope among many other things. Not only is nettle tasty and good for you but wildlife love nettles; small tortoiseshell caterpillars and peacock butterflies use them as foodplants; ladybirds feast on the aphids that shelter among them; and seed eating birds enjoy their autumn spoils. Nettles are a must for any garden.
They also create beautiful cucumber-like flavours in our gin. Our distiller, Mark, loves the flavour and how well it combines with Juniper however he isn’t so keen on putting them in the still as they do sting when dry! And we have a surprise coming in 2023 using nettle in one of our new products!