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Shakespeare’s mulberries used to make fruity gin

Now humble as the ripest mulberry that will not hold the handling; Coriolanus, Act 3 Scene 2.

Stratford Gin & Mulberry Gin
Stratford Gin & Mulberry Gin (c) Shakespeare Distillery

Fruit from two historic mulberry trees in the Great Garden of Shakespeare’s New Place has been harvested to produce a very special tipple that Shakespeare himself would have approved. 

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the independent charity that owns and cares for Shakespeare’s New Place, is working in partnership with local artisan gin company, Shakespeare Distillery to produce a special batch of mulberry gin that will be available later this year. 

The oldest mulberry tree in the Great Garden is reputed to have been grown from a cutting taken from a mulberry tree originally planted in the garden by Shakespeare when he lived at New Place. This tree was cut down by the Reverend Francis Gastrell over 250 years ago, fed up with visitors who wanted to see it.  Whilst there is no way of proving the truth of this tale, the age of the tree that stands today fits.  The second tree was planted in 1969 by Shakespearian actress, Dame Peggy Ashcroft.

Established in 2015, Shakespeare Distillery produces the award-winning Stratford Gin from its base on the beautiful 4000-acre Alscot estate in Stratford-upon-Avon. Made in small handcrafted batches taking inspiration from the Tudor period, it uses ten botanicals that would have been common in Shakespeare’s time. The Mulberry Gin is made by combining mulberries with Stratford Gin and leaving them to steep for several months before decanting and bottling. The result is a deep rich fruity gin ideal for sipping or using in cocktails. 

Glyn Jones, Head of Gardens at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said, “The mulberry has ripened earlier than expected this year due to the warm temperatures we’ve been enjoying. Rather than let the fruit go to waste, we approached our friends at Shakespeare Distillery to see if they could make use of the early harvest to produce a special batch of mulberry gin and we’re delighted they said yes! Our team of gardeners worked with them to harvest the fruit and we can’t wait to be one of the first to taste the fruits of our labour.” 

Simon Picken, Director and Master Distiller commented, "We originally created and launched our mulberry gin in April 2016 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, purposely choosing mulberries due to their connection with the bard. It was therefore incredibly exciting to be invited to harvest the fruits from these very special trees and we hope they will make a great special edition of our mulberry gin.” 

Special edition bottles of Shakespeare Distillery’s New Place Mulberry Gin will be available to purchase at the Shakespeare’s New Place gift shop on Chapel Street later this year, making the perfect gift for Christmas. For more information visit www.shakespeare.org.uk.

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