- Peach Amaro with peach leaf, quassia, pink peppercorn, rose, and elderflower
- Fermented Peach & Botanical Distillates
Suggested serve: Neat, or in a Bamboo Riff - 2 parts Day Trip to 1 part Blanc Vermouth, Lemon Twist
Into the Bottle
As summer peaks and turns its gaze to fall, we find ourselves deep in peach season. Briermere peaches weigh down the branches that bear them. Plush, deeply perfumed green leaves adorn the trees.
There’s nothing quite like biting into a perfectly ripe and juicy peach. Yet, capturing its essence in the bottle presents all sorts of challenges. For one, the stones of the peach can be toxic to humans. Second, the pectin can breakdown to methanol, another toxin, intense and solvent, with a similar boiling point to ethanol making it easy to concentrate but difficult to separate. Separation of the juice from the pectin and the stone is arduous and ultimately wasteful. So this year, to circumvent the challenges we've faced head on in the past, we took a different route.
Our beloved local orchard and farm, Briermere, made available to us 1,000 lbs of ‘seconds’ peaches. Freshly picked but lightly blemished in a way that shortens their potential shelf life at the stand. And so, we brought them into the distillery. We covered them in water and boiled them, yielding a sweet, bright and incredibly aromatic peach juice. We dropped the temperature and added a bit of champagne yeast. We fermented it to an off-dry peach wine before fortifying it with the peach leaf distillate.
Distilling peach leaves was one of our greatest discoveries this summer. The government body that regulates us can be very strict on the ingredients they will allow us to work with. They've compiled a relatively short list of ingredients that are not edible but are safe for use in producing flavorful alcoholic beverages -- think flowers, barks, roots…and peach leaves.
We previously thought them off limits, but for some reason at just the right moment in the season, peach leaves just sprang on the list. I texted Clark at Briermere asking if he could harvest some for us and a day later we were picking up 30 pounds! We gently crushed the leaves with our hands and macerated them in our alcohol overnight before distillation the next day.
To say that distillation inspired shock and awe is a completely accurate statement. We must have checked on it every 10 minutes -- it couldn't possibly keep coming off so…big and rich! It couldn't possibly taste as good as it smelled. But it did. All day. It secured it's spot on the list of our most prized distillates with its big and intoxicating flavors of marzipan. We used it to fortify the peach wine.
We added a fresh elderflower distillate as well -- flowers picked early in the season from trees growing alongside the peach trees at Briermere.
We added a few pounds of quassia. Rose petals. Pink peppercorn.
A few pales of sugar syrup.
I grew up canning. The process of filling sterile jars with the bounty of the seasons. Stewed peaches. Apple sauce. Pickled everything. Tomato sauce. Salsa. The flavors of reducing, stewing, pickling, fermenting -- they preserve elements of the peak, fresh ingredients while layering in more flavors, more depth. A depth that is cozy as the weather drops. Day Trip Peach Amaro captures the peach at its peak, layers it with the flavors of fermentation, intensifies it with the distillate of the peach leaves. The bit of quassia creates contrast. And anchors it a bit. We didn't go too deep with the bitter or the sweet - to hold the fresh peach in clear focus in a gentle amaro structure.
We'll drink this while admiring the leaves turning, and falling, and snow dropping. And we'll drink this when the flowers begin to wake again in spring. And then maybe there will be some left to drink besides next years fresh peaches. Maybe…