White Heron British Cassis
White Heron British Cassis is produced by Jo Hilditch in the heart of Herefordshire. Jo’s family have lived on Whittern Farm, a beautiful 700 acre estate, since 1876 with the first blackcurrants grown in the kitchen garden in 1880.
The land was once a mixed arable farm with their prizing-winning Hereford bulls being famous in the early 1900s. Orchards and chickens have been a long-standing part of the landscape whilst sheep, potatoes and other agricultural enterprises have been explored through the course of the estate’s history.
The first commercial blackcurrants were planted in 1953 and Jo’s family soon became one of 35 growers responsible for growing fruit for Ribena. Their apples are sold to Bulmer’s to be made into cider.
Jo Hilditch took over the running of her family’s estate in 1997 and diversified into creating gorgeous holiday lets and event spaces. Check out their website to see the stunning views you can enjoy if you stay there!
It was Jo herself who turned her attention back to the blackcurrants and decided to venture into cassis production. Her first batch was made in 2005 and the brand has soared ever since.
The Hereford countryside provides ideal growing conditions for blackcurrants. The berries are pressed on the day they’re harvested and are fermented in a similar way to winemaking with the addition of Champagne yeast. Once fermented, the liquid is fortified with vodka and a touch of sugar.
The named White Heron is a homage to the farm and the surrounding countryside. Whittern is derived from “White Ern” or White Heron, (commonly known as great white egrets). These magnificent birds are sadly in decline and not sighted as often as in the past.
Aromas: Rich, prominent ripe blackcurrant aromas with a stalky savoury bramble edge. Round with defined layers. Almost reminiscent of an oaked red wine. Not as a sweet as expected which is a blessing.
Palate: Sumptuous, round, ripe and juicy. Distinct blackcurrant and hedgerow characters in a more savoury style than usual. Good length.
It’s exciting to see cassis being reinvigorated – it’s a fantastic product with great versatility. Try it neat over ice, in sparkling wine or even in sauces. There are a myriad of cocktails which are elevated by the addition of cassis.
I am particularly impressed by the tartness and freshness remaining in White Heron British Cassis. Far too many products add too much sugar and the character of the fruit becomes secondary. This cassis lets the blackcurrants shine and showcases their ripeness alongside their bittersweet flavour profile.