It’s not every newsagent that sells gin but amongst the newspapers and sweets, Moretonhampstead newsagent Larry sells Britain’s favourite spirit. Unusual perhaps but Papillon Gin is made about two minutes walk from his shop and is the first and only gin distilled within Dartmoor National Park.
It is a delicious delicate gin with citrus and floral notes, lovingly created by Claire Hyne and her husband Adam, a thatcher, and has impeccable Dartmoor credentials.
“We take traditional gin botanicals; such as juniper, coriander seed, angelica and cubeb berries, and mix them with specific Dartmoor flavours which are foraged or hand grown locally; gorse, hawthorn berries, rowan berries and Devon Violets which are grown for us nearby. Our pure water is sourced fresh from a hill farm high up on Dartmoor. It springs from just below a granite tor perched up on gorse scattered moorland, where the Pearl Bordered Fritillary can be found pausing its flight to sip from the spring.”
Ah, the butterfly connection. Papillon is named in honour of the endangered Pearl Bordered Fritillary which feeds on the local violets. Claire has always been interested in conservation and out walking the moor with her dog “Head Distiller” Fitz has observed the wildlife living in this wild landscape. Now a volunteer with Butterfly Conservation she has special responsibility for a Pearl Bordered Fritillary project on Dartmoor which now benefits from every bottle of Papillon Gin sold.
Widely available around Devon and further afield, Papillon Gin is winning many fans. So how should we drink it? Devon wine merchant Jaded Palates describes it as having, “A lively citrus start with more subtle floral, fruity and herbal undertones. Engaging so don’t overpower it with a strong flavoured tonic.”
So if gin is your thing come and try Papillon Gin at Toby’s Garden Festival and see if you can taste the Dartmoor botanicals – and help Butterfly Conservation. And Claire and Adam have an exciting new product now under wraps but will be available at the garden festival and yes, it too is named after a butterfly.
Words: Gabrielle Jackson, Creative Director, Toby’s Garden Festival
And if you would like to grow violets to attract butterflies:
Devon Violet Nursery