Founded in 2002, Sloemotion is a family business based in the Howardian Hills of North Yorkshire, producing a range of premium quality liqueurs, chocolates and chutneys using locally sourced hedgerow and orchard fruit.
Like many a burgeoning business these days, it is a truly home-grown enterprise. Jonathan Curtoys and his wife Claire bought Sloemotion in 2006, having established the business together with North Yorkshire farming neighbours back in 2002. While their neighbours wanted to pursue other farming ideas, the Curtoys decided to take on the nascent Sloemotion business to extend the product line from the original Sloe Gin, to include products such as Sloe Gin Chocolate Truffles, Sloe Whisky and Sloe Chutney. Recently they have “forgaed a little further down the hedgerow” to produce Damson Gin and Cherry Brandy, and new in 2014, Bramble Whisky.
And Sloemotion’s glorious products are sweeping aside strong competition from all over the country to win numerous prestigious awards, making an almost-forgotten British drinking tradition popular once again. Awards include:
Sloe Gin – Daily Telegraph/Sainsbury’s Taste of Britain Awards 2007; One gold star, Great Taste Awards 2011
Sloe Whisky – Deliciouslyorkshire Awards Best Drink, 2014; Two Gold Stars, Great Taste Awards 2009
Damson Gin – World Gin Awards 2014: Bronze Medal
Sloemotion has now become a full time business employing ten people, including Curtoys’ brother Julian, but it came about almost by accident.
Manor Farm near the market town of Malton in North Yorkshire, where the Sloemotion business was originally based, was proactive in returning tracts of agricultural land to wildlife conservation. This meant planting protective grass and wildflower borders along hedgerows, and ceasing the regular cutting of hedges to allow fruit to develop as an important food source for birds and small mammals.
Before long, large amounts of sloes began to fruit on the blackthorn bushes. Paradoxically, almost no wildlife will touch the sloe berry as the taste is so bitter. But to Curtoys and his neighbour, who had grown up drinking home-made sloe gin, an idea began to take shape and Sloemotion was born.
Though the business has grown, were possible Sloemotion sources its fruit from the local hedgerows, from other farms in the area and from other northern counties. “We’re making it worth the local farmer’s while to manage their hedges in a way that favours wildlife. It’s a win for all parties.”
The Sloe Gin is made in the traditional way, with the fruit steeped in gin and sugar and left to mature. Like good home-made sloe gin Sloemotion’s is a deep rosé colour because nothing else is added. A high concentration of fruit used in the production results in a sweet and fruity liqueur, with a delicious dry finish from the gin.
In-keeping with the environmentally conscious times, when the liqueurs are made however, the spirit-infused fruit is not wasted. Instead it is used to make unique and delicious award winning chocolate truffles and condiments.
Sloemotion products can be purchased from about 350 farm shops, food halls, garden centres and delicatessens across Great Britain. Or, go online to buy at www.sloemotion.com or to find the shows they are attending and your local stockist.