All Hail the Mighty Elderberry

The elder tree is said to be the home of the Elder Mother. Protective spirit of the forest. It has been venerated and used for millennia as food, medicine and more.

But more recently people have forgotten about this phenomenal fruit despite its abundance on the British Isles - chances are you have walked past an Elder tree in the last 24hr hours but simply haven’t noticed.


So what exactly are elderberries?

Elderberries are deep purple berries with a fantastic flavour and an array of researched health benefits. Black elderberries, or ‘Sambucus nigra’, are actually part of the honeysuckle plant family. They are also one of the most commonly used medicinal plants in the world, where its use as an immune booster dates back millennia.

Elderberries are high in compounds known as proanthocyanins (OPCs), which are thought to contribute to their health benefits. The OPCs are also responsible for elderberry’s vibrant purple colour. The super-berry is also rich in immune-boosting Vitamin C and zinc.

Elderberries in bowl

What are the health benefits?

Rich in antioxidants, elderberries can be used for a multitude of ailments including reducing inflammation, lessen stress and help protect your heart. However, studies done with elderberries shows its major potential is in remedying cold and flu symptoms.

In a study on sufferers of cold symptoms, elderberry provided relief from coughing and nasal congestion. It is thought that the OPCs found in elderberries may improve immune function, contributing to cold-relief for sufferers.

Armed with this knowledge as COVID struck earlier this year we turned to our friend and herbal expert Monica Wilde of Napier’s the Herbalists for advice on how best to harness and share the power of this wondrous berry. Jump forward a month and our collaborative Elixir was on the market winging its way to families up and down the land.

For a more in depth look at all of the ingredients and their unique properties please have a look at Monica’s Covid in the Kitchen Blog posts:

And the flavour?

To us they are absolutely delicious and what inspired us to start our liqueur business. They pack the same intense fruitiness as blackberry but without the acidity or sharpness. Instead they have a lovely undertone of dark chocolate and subtle earthines that marries so well with our carefully selected young Scottish whisky spirit.

Aelder liqueur bottle on a mossy tree branch

Over 2500 berries go into every 500ml bottle of Aelder and is what gives our drink its intensity of flavour and velvety smooth texture. To give balance, depth and complexity we add our secret blend of hand picked Scottish spices and botanicals.

So make no mistake, this is NOT your average liqueur. It is not simply a matter of adding some fruit and sugar to a basic spirit and letting it stew. Every element, process and ingredient has been carefully selected to best capture and share the flavours so perfectly crafted by Nature. It is a drink that is complex in its make up but simple to enjoy, whether sipped neat, topped with sparkling wine or your favourite mixer, or blended into a contemporary cocktail.

So grab a bottle for yourself and see the possibility of this new kind of drink - flavour first and seasoned with spirit.

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