Booze-free botanical beverage from Harris is gentle on the head – and the planet

Celebrations and get-togethers can often seem centred around alcoholic drinks, but an increasing number of people are opting to go booze-free – whether for health reasons or because they’re a nominated driver.

For many, though, the choice of non-alcoholic alternatives on offer can be underwhelming.

Not any more.

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Now there is a classy and environmentally friendly alternative, hand-crafted on one of Scotland’s most beautiful islands.

Wild Eve is a unique alcohol-free spirit, made in small batches from organic flowers, fruits, leaves and seaweeds grown and gathered on the isle of Harris.

It is the creation of apothecarist and trained perfumier Amanda Saurin, who has been working with plants and herbs for nearly four decades.

She describes the infusion as “magic in a bottle”, with botanical properties that can help relieve stress and promote calm.

“Living in Harris has offered plants and combinations that are not to be found elsewhere,” she said.

Harris, in the Outer Hebrides, is the home of a unique new non-alcoholic beverage - Wild Eve - a rose-coloured infusion crafted from hand-picked ingredients such as seaweed and native flowers

“We have walked mountain and machair meadow and explored the offerings of the sea, finding ingredients that harmoniously combine into something absolutely different to anything you will have tasted before.

“It has been more privilege than work to get to understand this landscape and the plants that inhabit it.

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“We have planted around two hundred roses, which we’re growing organically on our croft in Harris, along with chamomile, oats and a plethora of other plants.

Wild Eve is hand-crafted non-alcoholic spirit made in Harris, infused with organic plants and seaweed grown on the island

“We use sugar kelp from the crystal-clear seas and a select few machair meadow wild flowers.”

As a non-drinker herself, she was inspired to create the new beverage after becoming bored with the usual alcohol-free offerings.

She said: “For years I've sat in pubs with friends, nursing an elderflower cordial, orange juice or an insipid mocktail whilst they drank interesting, complex alcoholic drinks.

“I've worked with plants for over 35 years. I'm a distiller and a natural perfumier and I realised that it was time for change – time to reinvent the options for drinking so everyone could enjoy a drink with heat, length and complexity, irrespective of its alcohol status.

Wild Eve is the creation of apothecarist and trained perfumier Amanda Saurin, who has been working with plants and herbs for nearly four decades

“So I started with the theory of perfume, categorising the ingredients I found growing in Harris into top, middle and base notes and then started to build the drink.

“I also wanted to incorporate plants that gave the feeling of having had a little alcohol, so I included flowers, roots and herbs that induce a feeling of calm.

“Then I spent years perfecting it.”

The result is a distinctive rose-coloured beverage that can be consumed neat over ice, with a mixer such as cloudy apple juice and soda or as the base for a cocktail.

So what does it taste like?

“It's difficult to describe,” she said, “but I would say it opens with citrus brightness, moving into a floral, tannin-rich body with notes of chamomile, rose and honeysuckle, finishing with earthy, smokey, peppery notes and a nip of the sea.”

Wild Eve is made in small batches and is not available on supermarket shelves - but it can be ordered direct from Harris, mailed in eco-friendly packaging

Saurin is also committed to minimising the ecological footprint of her brew, limiting production of Wild Eve to 10,000 bottles a year.

It’s not available on supermarket shelves but can be ordered directly from Harris – mailed in recyclable, biodegradable packaging.

She said: “The key decision was to have Wild Eve as a green growth company.

"We grow many of our own plants but we also pick wild, and to preserve the fragile ecology of the island we decided to limit the number of bottles we make.

“Our packaging has no excessive fillers and bubble wrap.

“It is both stylish and recyclable, and made from recycled materials.

“Every part of it can be put into the recycling bin or reused.

“Our bottles are glass and the lid is metal – we don't use plastic.

“Because we grow or wild-harvest most of our ingredients we have a relatively small carbon footprint, it also means we can pick plants at exactly the right moment.

“We have no waste. All the used plant matter is hot-composted and put back onto the croft to feed the plants.

“Our plant beds are fertilised using our own compost and seaweed collected in barrows from the beach down the road.

“We have just invested in a new greenhouse to allow us to grow more and wild-harvest less.”

Saurin loves living in the Outer Hebrides and feels lucky, even embracing the challenges that nature can throw up.

“We work on this little island on the edge of the Atlantic,” she said.

“On Sunday it was warm, bright and beautiful. I stepped out without a coat and sat drinking coffee up a hill, looking out over a mirror-like sea.

“On Tuesday the wind was gusting at 60mph, the snow was horizontal, it was freezing.

“I watched the wind blow our tool store across the croft. It was awesome in the proper sense of the word.

“Harris is truly wild, not for the faint-hearted, but incredibly beautiful.

“I have never lived anywhere where I feel more alive and less important.

“In Harris you really feel your insignificance in the face of this landscape and its weather.

“It's the reason we called the drink Wild Eve. It takes a certain wildness to live here.”

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