It is a beautiful day in Aberdeenshire and, as we walk along a country road just outside of Inverurie, Andrew Smith suddenly bounds into the bushes.
“Have a taste of this,” he says, handing me what looks like a three-leaf clover. I give it a cautious chew and am hit by a strident sting of citrus, like lemon-flavoured bubblegum.
“That’s wood sorrel,” Andrew says. “It grows all around here.”
Andrew and Chris Reid, the owners of Little Brown Dog Spirits, are giving me a crash course in foraging.
In 2018, the two men started up their own gin distillery and independent bottler from Chris’s garage, naming the company after Andrew’s Jack Russel/Cocker Spaniel cross.
To give their gin a unique twist, and to make the most of the wild ingredients in this corner of Scotland, Andrew and Chris decided to forage as many of their gin botanicals as possible.
This calls for plenty of foraging trips, hence our Friday afternoon trip into the woods behind Chris’s house.
“You can’t look at this part of the world and not do something with that,” says Andrew, who splits his time between the distillery and his full-time job as a vet.
“Our ethos is trying to utilise what we find around around us and create flavour from the environment. We forage what we can, grow what we can’t forage and only buy what we can’t forage or grow sustainability.”
A transparent Little Brown Dog Spirits
The pair, who will be appearing at Taste of Grampian at the P&J Live in Aberdeen on Saturday June 3, are also keen to be as transparent as possible. They use the What Three Words app to geolocate the spots they forage botanicals from.
What Three Words can pinpoint anywhere in the world down to a three-metre-square patch using – as you might expect – just three words.
This, says Andrew, shows customers just how important the local environment is to Little Brown Dog.
“It’s about respecting the area that we are in,” he adds.
As we forage, Andrew’s dog bounces about in the background, happy to be out in the fresh air.
“We joke that a lot of businesses get a dog to go with their distillery,” Andrew says. “We built a distillery to go with a dog.”
This is Andrew’s Little Brown Dog Spirits story…
Little Brown Dog Spirits will be attending Taste of Grampian which takes place on Saturday June 4 at P&J Live in Dyce, Aberdeen. Be sure to pay them a visit at their stall to sample their gins and blended whiskies.
Tickets for the festival are priced at £13.50. To purchase them, click here.