Summer may be coming to an end, but Black Fox Farm and Distillery has just put the finishing touches on its new Haskap Gin that is meant to encapsulate the taste of summer in Saskatchewan, allowing for summertime sipping no matter what the season.
On the heels of ushering in its highly successful Canadian Whisky Project, Black Fox’s new Haskap Gin is now available for purchase, but it likely won’t be for long.
Developed from haskap berries grown right on Black Fox Farm, Saskatchewan’s premiere farm-to-flask distillery is only releasing approximately 2,000 bottles due to the somewhat experimental nature of this first run, and has said it will likely be another two years until the next batch is ready.
“We grow about five acres of haskap here and have struggled to figure out where it fits into our distilling program,” says Black Fox co-founder John Cote.” “The problem is that they can be a bit on the bitter side and when you use them to make liqueurs, you almost have to over sweeten them to balance them. So, we decided to work with that bitterness rather than fight it.”
“So two years ago, we started blending the haskap with gin and aging it outside under the Prairie sky in oak barrels to pull a bit of tannin from the barrels,” Cote continues. “To that, we also added some other ingredients to increase the bitterness, such as gentian root and black tea leaves. In the end, we sweetened it a bit with honey and caramelized sugar that we had used to extract some flavour from the haskap skins. We then added a bit of rhubarb juice to stabilize the colour. All and all, it was an exciting project that turned out really well.”
During this process, the award-winning distillery was approached by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS), who saw the spirit as a great way to tell the story of the importance of biodiversity in the boreal forest. Since the haskap berries Black Fox use are indigenous to the boreal forest systems in Canada, Russia, Poland, and Japan, Cote felt that the partnership was a perfect match.
“The fruit that we grow on our farm is the result of plant breeding at the University of Saskatchewan from plants from forest ecosystems around the world,” Cote adds. “Biodiversity, both in the wild and in agriculture, is important to preserve because it boosts ecosystem health and productivity.”
The new Black Fox Haskap Gin is available for purchase at the distillery and through select retail stores in Regina and Saskatoon. $5 from each of the first 500 bottles sold will be donated to protect boreal natural resources through CPAWS.