An interview with Sloemotion

Aimée Smith, 24 May, 2018
Here at Inntravel, we know that we're very lucky to be based in North Yorkshire – we have beautiful countryside all around us, spectacular Castle Howard a couple of minutes up the road and neighbours who just happen to be award-winning gin specialists...

And seeing as we share a passion for the countryside as well as a postcode, we thought we’d spend a few moments with Sloemotion’s founder, Joff Curtoys, to find out a little more about what goes on over the hedge…

Q: So how did it all begin?
It all began with an interest in wildlife and farming, and in how you could make a small arable farm more environmentally and economically sustainable. In 2002, we stopped the annual cutting of hedges on the farm in order to create thick, 'tangly' structures and help fruit production for wildlife. Suddenly, we saw lots of sloes appearing on the blackthorn in the hedges, and the idea emerged that this ancient fruit could be a crop and used to make a product on the farm; and Sloemotion was born.

Q: And what’s so special about North Yorkshire’s hedgerows?
The North Yorkshire hedgerows are not particularly ‘special’; there are just a lot of them!

Q: What did you do in your previous life? Was it a natural progression?
I’ve had a lifelong interest in wildlife and farming. In the UK, the two are inextricably linked; we have no wilderness here. I began my working life in the farming industry and then moved to be an agriculture policy advisor for the RSPB, before setting up a business on a farm growing and processing food in a way that helped wildlife too. It felt like natural progression for me!

Q: Talk us through the production process. How do the sloes get from hedge to bottle?
By definition, sloes are wild, so they are all hand-picked from the hedgerows. They are then immediately frozen (often people wait for the first frost before picking – this was valid before freezers were invented!). We then defrost and steep the fruit in our own Hedgerow Gin – flavoured with botanicals that also come from the hedges; things like elderflower, rosehips, nettle leaves and crab apple. We add sugar, and then stir regularly over a period of months. We keep the filtering to a minimum to retain as much flavour as possible and then bottle. Simple!

Q: How much is done on site?
The Sloe Gin and all the other liqueurs are made here on Green Farm. This spring, we are installing our first still, meaning that we will be making our Hedgerow Gin here for the first time too.

Q: What else do you make? Any exciting new products we should be looking out for?
Ever concerned about the environment, we don’t like waste (even the sample cups for tasting our liqueurs are made out of plant starch and are therefore compostable) so the fruit that comes out of the liqueurs is recycled! Working with some local producers, we use it to make delicious chocolate truffles, chutneys, a jelly and even a tasty ketchup.

This spring we are launching a new iteration of Hedgerow Gin made with rhubarb and raspberry, which gives it a lovely pink blush. It’s still very much a gin and tonic gin; a delicious fruity taste followed by a fine dry finish.

Q: What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Taking a product from conception through to bottling. Or, nipping out and checking how the hedges are doing!

Q: What would you say to convince someone to take their first sip of sloe gin?
Think rich, fruity sweetness on the taste buds followed by a warming dryness to finish.

Q: And finally, what’s your favourite way to enjoy Sloemotion?
Am I allowed two ways? First, a Hedgerow Gin & Tonic garnished with apple and a sprig of thyme, sitting in the garden on a warm spring evening. Or, halfway up a hill on a cold winter’s day with a nip of Sloe Whisky from the hipflask.


Browse Sloemotion’s tempting collection of fruit-based liqueurs, truffle chocolates and delicious chutneys, all infused with the taste of the Yorkshire countryside!
Shop online here >
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