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  • Writer's pictureStuart Pearce

Let's get fruity episode 2 - Apricot!

Updated: Jun 26


Next stop on the fruity fun bus is Apricot, and a mini-profile of Greensand Ridge Distillery.


In today's lineup... Capovilla is back, with 4 new producers/distillers including two from Hungary - an important pin to add to our map.


In Hungary, fruit distillates are called Pálinka and are extremely popular. Under the 2008 "Hungarian Pálinka Law", only fruit spirits distilled from a mash of ripe fruits produced in Hungary, mashed, distilled, matured, and bottled locally can be called pálinka.


Speaking to a few Hungarian friends I found it's common for households to distill their own Pálinka. A license is required, and your distilling equipment must be registered, but it's relatively straightforward and you pay little to no tax on what you produce.

The only major conditions are that you have to make the Pálinka from your own fruit and I believe the maximum you can produce is 86 litres per year.


Apricot could potentially be one of the big hitters of the series. In Eastern Europe - where Eaux-de-Vie is more common than Gin - Apricot is often considered the finest in the category. I'm led to believe that apricot distillates have a very honest profile - so I'm expecting big clean apricot flavours...


Kent - the garden of England - a veritable fruit mecca and home to a mission-led, carbon-neutral distillery, making spirits with surplus produce and a tiny environmental footprint.


This mission is not just words & window dressing - all their spirits are distilled with renewable power, with no chemicals, no single-use water, carbon neutral, and plastic free.


When master distiller Will Edge conceived Greensand Ridge Distillery he asked the question, how do you take an energy-intensive process as distilling is, and not only reduce its environmental footprint, but have it make a positive contribution to sustainability?


Well, he's achieved what he set out to; Greensand produces a solid line of spirits, mostly from surplus fruit, all adhering to the original mission.

This approach, and the huge efforts, have won them a raft of well-deserved sustainability awards such as the Marie Claire Sustainability Award 2021 and Gin Magazine’s Sustainable Distillery of the Year 2020. More on this here...


Greensand is open for visits and has gin & rum experiences available for you to come and get involved (link here).



And now for the tasting...

An in-van tasting today! Parked up on a backstreet in a secret location reviewing apricot distillates - who'd have thought!

Five drams, 15ml of each, left to breathe for about 30 mins. Nosed first, then tasted, in the same random order I created the lead photo.

Assisted today (via my cans* to avoid bringing attention to our stealth wagon) by some throwbacks from the Stone Temple Pilots.

If you want to know why we are currently living in a Mercedez Benz Sprinter van, I wrote a fun article here.

*English slang for headphones


Purple apricot Eau de Vie (or Pálinka) from Hungary. This one is not completely clear, just a slight haze, suggesting a little barrel time.


Nose: Rich and warm. A hint of vanilla and caramel possibly from a barrel. Apricot arrives and builds. And build. Wonderful. Finally the apricot is replaced by herbal & menthol notes. And a little marzipan & spearmint. The apricot bit in the middle was delicious. Overall it's ok.

Re-nosing later the apricot is back with vengeance. Hugely aromatic. The spearmint & marzipan flavours are also still knocking around and, for me, slightly spoiling the party.


Mouth: Quite bright. Lots of apricot and an enjoyable apricot liqueur-type booziness. A splash of Luxardo Maraschino too. Unfortunate slight artificial notes on the palate let this down. Enjoyable but not the clean fruit, complexity, or quality taste we want. [79pts]





Another offering from Hungary. This one from Bestillo has been fully reduced to 40% which is a shame. The full ranges of both Bestillo and Szicsek Pálinkas, along with other Hungarian goodies, are available in the UK on szicsekpalinka.co.uk


Nose: Lighter. Clean and crisp. Starts with a little creme de menthe and fennel - reminiscent of Indian Mukhwas. And green apple. Overall it's not offering much. Some enjoyable dry apricot notes if you hunt but the nose on this one is a bit lacking. The thin profile leaves obvious ethanol notes poking through suggesting poor integration.


Mouth: Starts with clean fruit but quickly moves to a thin boozy aromatic mess. Bitter, muddled, and not working. [74pts]





Our first visit of the series to this highly regarded Austrian distiller. Known for their 100% natural, unsweetened, unflavoured fruit distillates, Guglhof often rests their fruit brandies for several years to soften and harmonize the flavours prior to bottling. This apricot brandy, or eau de vie, was harvested, fermented, and distilled way back in 2016.


Nose: Much more fruit than the two Pálinkas. Bright. A big step up. Fresh and juicy. A naturally sweet profile. Balanced fruit and slight bitterness from the skin. A gob full of clean lovely Apricot juice, flesh, and skin. Very inviting. Really impressed by this. An incredibly juicy apricot nose. 😋 A 90-point nose, fingers crossed for the taste.


Mouth: Great fruity start. A touch thin on the texture but delicious. Oozes apricot juice. Sweet fruit with a nice bit of fruit-acid balancing things. The thin texture and a short finish fail to fully deliver on the big promises of the nose, but a really fun dram with a clean bright fruit finish. [85+pts]






Capovilla Abricot de Vesuve, 49%, £115 (500ml), ltd release

After a strong showing in the Quince round, I have high hopes for the Capo distillate, made with unusual Vesuvius apricots. Bottled at a bold 49% which immediately gets my attention...


Nose: Easily the most intense of the lineup. Stunning depth. A dry profile with an almost creamy fruity richness. A thick gloopy, heady nose - that extra abv making itself known but perfectly balanced. No harshness or sharpness at all.

Ground almond and dry cherry pit bitterness. A different beast to the Guglhof - classy & complex rather than fresh and juicy.


Mouth: The biggest taste of the bunch ... by a distance. Globs of fruit. Clean apricot with that cherry pit bitterness, and fruit acidity in just the right amounts. A quality long finish. Not up to the level of some of the quince, but delicious, seriously high-quality stuff. [88+pts]

'+' indicates a potential upgrade on further tasting...could it sneak to 89 in the grand final 8 weeks from now??





Apricot Eau de Vie from today's profiled distiller. Very exciting.

In line with their ethos for making spirits from surplus fruit, this Eau de Vie is made from fruit too large or blemished for supermarket sales and picked at a farm six miles away from the distillery.


Nose: A touch sharper than the others. Very perfumed. Almost cologne-like. A nose you can taste! Heady apricot. Lots of orange oil. And hints of marzipan & furniture polish. A tiny edge of the fragranced hot towels you get on planes and after meals.


Mouth: Good juicy apricot leads off proceedings. With excellent natural fruit acid. Texture is chalky and a touch thin. Cherry pit bitterness that, on first taste, was too much but actually works and gives a great extra dimension. The marzipan and fragranced hot towel notes have persisted into the finish of the taste marring things a touch for me. Good but not great. [80pts]




Conclusion: Another delicious tasting although Apricot did not live up to its knock-out expectation. Quince has set a high bar and it will be interesting to see how the remaining fruit of the series live up to it.

An easy win for the Capovilla Apricot de Vesuve so we'll see that again in the final. And a nice fresh bright surprise from our first visit to Guglhof. Both the Guglhof and the Greensand Ridge offer excellent value and are worth looking out for.


Want more? For further reading check out Augustine Bar - they have done several blind Eau de Vie tastings, amongst their hundreds of excellent reviews over the last few years.



Next week, a monster showdown, 14 Pear distillates - phew! Which would be your winner?


Next week's profile will be of the main man - Gianni Capovilla ... Capo is the one on the left 😉😁


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