BIRKENTREE is the old Scots word for Birch tree and the original Birchwater dedicated to whisky. It has been created by four friends - We had a chat with Co-founder Rob on filling a gap in the market as a natural mixer for whisky.
Birchwater from Japan and America has been used to good effect to complement their fine single malts but, surprisingly, there is little evidence of Scotch Whisky being combined with Scottish Birchwater - BIRKENTREE aims to remedy this!
Our Birchwater imparts a smoothness and elegance in a way which complements and enhances whisky.
Founder Directors, Rob Clamp (a professional forester) and his wife Gabrielle (a herbalist), have an intimate knowledge of forestry, native Scottish species and plants. They select carefully only the most venerable birch trees which range in age from one hundred to two hundred and fifty years old.
Other than the exciting prospect of a new dedicated natural mixer for the world of whisky, one of the most compelling aspects of our product is its ancient place within Scottish history.
We were able to ask Rob a couple of questions, here is what he said...
How quickly do you need to harvest and what exactly do you harvest?
The Birch tapping season is incredibly short, lasting only for two and a half to three weeks. It's usually around early March when the sap is beginning to rise in the magical process that happens before the trees come into leaf. Not missing the taping season window is obviously critical and then mobilising as quickly as possible. We carry out all our Birch tapping using manual methods and collect the sap every day during the season to ensure it's freshness. Birch sap is very active and will start to ferment quickly if not stored quickly. Part of our USP is that we only work with ancient Birch trees, which are almost unique to Scotland, growing up to 300 years old. This means some of our trees were alive when Bonnie Prince Charlie was stravaiging around Scotland, an amazing thought!
Is there any specialist equipment required?
We use a tap and bag system, which is often used in North America for tapping Sugar Maple trees. Our system ensure maximum freshness to be maintained and also for our harvesting to be interactive. We have many groups and individuals who join us in the tapping season, who absolutely love the magic of collecting the sap (and often drinking it!) straight from the tree.
How do you think Birkentree will mix with other spirits?
We do know through our own experimentation and feedback from others that our Birchwater does mix well with other spirits such as vodka, rum and tequila. It has the ability to create the same smoothness and richness it does with whisky. Because of our special connection with whisky and shared Scottish heritage we are focusing on whisky at the moment.
Can you explain what the particles are within the bottles?
The particles within the bottle are perfectly normal and are in fact a good thing! These are the enzymes and minerals contained within the Birchwater, which show that it is completely natural and has not been micro filtered or altered. Our advice is to 'Shake, Serve, Savour' before pairing it whisky and the particles will disappear.
Do you have plans to take Birkentree global?
We are taking in part in a number of virtual trade missions and discussions with potential customers and ambassadors in North America, New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Japan and would very much like to gain a foothold in the export market. We feel that BIRKENTREE Highland Birchwater is unique to Scotland and has an incredible heritage and provenance. We believe we are the world's first dedicated Birchwater for whisky and are keen to develop this relationship between such two ancient liquids.
Do you have a favourite whisky that you have paired with Birkentree?
Oh no, that's a dangerous question. There are so many wonderful whiskies that it is hard to select any one in particular. What we can say is that the fuller bodied whiskies do tend to pair very well with our Birchwater. Our Birchwater does not dilute whisky like water does, because of it's silky texture when paired with whisky, it allows the whisky to linger on the palate and creates a smoothness with any sharp edges rounded off.