I enquired about a brand that, I don’t know about you, I’ve seen a fair bit of lately, cropping up in bars and restaurants all over Manchester. Not one to miss out on a drinking sensation, I spoke to the team at Belvoir Fruit Farms to see what all the fuss is about. You see, Belvoir Fruit Farms are not an alcohol producer, but a cordial and pressé manufacturer with an array of flavours to add a touch of summer to your long drinks.
Before we hit onto their range and see what we can get from each, lets take a look at who, what and how Belvoir Fruit Farms have got themselves such a sturdy reputation.
Belvoir (pronounced ‘beever’) is located within the Lincolnshire countryside on the Belvoir Castle estate close to Grantham. The location has a rich history, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror in the 11th century. Robert de Todeni, Standard Bearer to William the Conqueror, built the first castle and named it ‘Bel voir’, the French term for ‘beautiful view’. A couple of re-builds have happened since then, mainly after the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War, but the current version is alive and well, occupied by the Duke and Duchess of Rutland and open to the public.
Belvoir the brand came about around 1984, when for many years before that, Belvoir Fruit Farm was literally a fruit farm. The wife of the Lord of the castle at the time, Lord John Manner, began making elderflower cordial for her family, using the flowers she picked from the hedgerows around the farm. Mary Manner expanded to a few cases from small hand-made batches once friends and neighbours caught wind of her creation, ultimately becoming available to purchase within the local shop.
By the late 1980’s, Lord John was producing a range of cordials from the fruits around his farm, all pressed using an antique French wine press. The spring of 1995 saw them go organic with the introduction of planting 90 acres of organic elderflowers, ultimately harvested in 1998. These days, the business is run by Peveral Manners, son of the founders, who has over time expanded the range available, and the fruits that the farm produces. He’s kept everything on site too, with all fruits and flowers squeezed, crushed, pressed, cooked or infused.
So, a farm based company, still in the family, and creating award-winning cordials. Not a bad start at all, but how do they all fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the range I’ve experienced so far –
Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Pressé – 0%
Made from organic elderflowers, fresh organic lemon juice, organic sugar and sparkling water from the Belvoir springs.
Light with fresh hints of lemon on the nose. Delicate elderflower with hints of natural sweetness come through. Slightly sharp with the citrus on the palate, but mellows into a smooth elderflower offering. A little dry on the finish, with a low carbonation throughout.
Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Pressé Light – 0%
30% less sugar than the original Elderflower Pressé. Fresh elderflower on the nose, natural scents with a wild flower feel to the aromas. Elderflower dominates initially on the palate, but the fresh citrus rounds out the experience and creates a short offering. A little dryer, and noticeably less sugar than its original.
Belvoir Fruit Farms Raspberry Lemonade – 0%
Created using pressed raspberry and lemon juices and blended with Belvoir sparkling spring water.
Sweet, bold raspberry notes on the nose, following nicely onto the palate. A little sharp once the citrus hits, but doesn’t take away the main expected flavour of raspberry. Short, sweet and refreshing.
Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Cordial – 0%
Fresh elderflowers and squeezed fresh lemons blended together with sugar and water.
Bold hit of elderflower on the nose, ripe aromas with a hint of natural honey sweetness. Sharp on the palate, but mellows quickly into a very sweet finish. Short, fresh with a lively base.
Belvoir Fruit Farms Raspberry & Rose Cordial – 0%
Fresh pressed raspberries blended with Turkish rose petal extract. Smooth velvet tones on the nose of raspberry, with a slight Turkish Delight aroma coming through. Lighter than expected on the palate, with fresh raspberry being rounded off with the Turkish rose petal. Naturally sweet, delicate and long.
Belvoir Fruit Farms Raspberry & Lemon Cordial – 0%
Pressed raspberries blended with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Fresh lemon dominates the nose, with hints of acidic sweetness from the raspberries lingering on the finish. Very sharp on the palate, with the natural sweetness bursting through to counterbalance. Fresh, bold and long.
A cracking range, and with many a recipe to enjoy –
Long Raspberry Cosmo
25 ml Ketel One Citrus
15 ml Cointreau
10 ml Lime juice
2 dashed Orange bitters
125 ml Raspberry Lemonade Pressé
Shake ingredients and strain into hi-ball glass with cubed ice. Top with Raspberry Lemonade, garnish with flamed orange zest.
35 ml Havana Club 3yr
6-8 Mint leaves
2 Lime wedges
1 tsp Sugar
75 ml Elderflower Pressé
Squeeze limes into high-ball glass and add mint leaves and sugar. Churn, add rum and fill with crushed ice. Churn again, add more crushed ice and top with Elderflower Pressé. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Two great choices, and indeed not the only options for you. The Elderflower Pressé or Raspberry Lemonade goes very well as a mixer for gin or vodka, whilst the Raspberry and Rose cordial can jazz up a sparkling wine and the Elderflower cordial is great within a gin and tonic. But it’s not only drinks that the Belvoir Fruit Farms range are good for –
Belvoir Marinade for Lamb
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp Belvoir Blueberry & Blackcurrant Cordial
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp of fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt & pepper
1. Mix all the ingredients together.
2. Place the lamb in a large Zip Lock bag and pour in the marinade. Seal the bag. This makes it easier to keep it in the fridge and the lamb is better covered by the marinade than leaving it sitting in a bowl.
If barbecuing, pour some of the marinade over the meat as it is cooking. If roasting, do the same but, after cooking and removing the lamb, make a sauce by pouring some stock and red wine into the roasting tray. Reduce this down and add some crème fraiche. Season to taste.
Quite a versatile range to enjoy! As mentioned before, Belvoir Fruit Farms can boast some awards too, with The Great Taste panel awarding last year 2 gold stars to the Elderflower & Rose Pressé and further single 1 star awards each for Apple, Plum & Cinnamon, Blueberry & Blackberry and Honey, Lemon & Ginger cordials. The original Elderflower cordial still racks up the accolades too, being awarded a Great Taste Award as well as a Gold Award from the Taste of Britain 2005, run by Sainsbury’s and The Daily Telegraph.
There’s many more within the range to explore, including flavours such as blackcurrant and cox apple, lime and lemongrass as well as ginger cordials, elderflower and rose alongside ginger beer pressés, and even coconut and lime pressés within a can. Going off what I have been lucky enough to try so far, all are worthy of being experienced, and I can see why not only bartenders are interested in playing around with the natural, fresh flavours, but also chefs being given the opportunity to add a dash of colour and uniqueness to any dish.
‘Naturally delicious’ they say. I couldn’t agree more.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.