April showers bring May flowers, and no blossom is as synonymous with blue skies and brilliant sunshine as fragrant elderflower. Taking inspiration from his great-great-grandfather, a country vicar whose garden was always in bloom, Johnny Neill’s JJ Whitley Elderflower Gin is just the mixer to make your May bubbles blossom.
It wasn’t a stretch for Johnny Neill to start distilling gin. After all, his ancestors – the Whitley family – had been involved in the industry as far back as the 1830s, when his great-great-great-grandfather John Whitley, a Liverpudlian solicitor, married the daughter of a brewer. Her family business became his; and through eight generations, it flourished. Johnny is more than happy to carry on that legacy now.
“John James Whitley was a real stalwart of the company,” Johnny says of his namesake, and the man for whom he named JJ Whitley, his gin brand. “He was a traditional Edwardian gentleman, and his ethos was all about doing things in the right way. No cutting corners. He was also the son of a vicar; his father, Thomas Whitley, was the Rector of Daresbury in Cheshire. We wanted to evoke the English Vicarage Garden, which is why we’ve been looking at ingredients like nettle, rhubarb and, of course, elderflower.”
The Elderflower Gin in your May Bubble Box is a wonderfully English tipple – especially when combined with a beautiful flute of fizz. Distilled in a traditional copper still, it’s a gorgeous combination of elderflower and JJ Whitley’s delicious London Dry Gin.
“We steep the elderflower for over 24 hours in the spirit we make the gin from,” Johnny says, “and then we carefully blend it with our London Dry Gin, plus a little bit of English sugar beet to add a little touch of sweetness.” A fabulous addition to cocktails, it’s also a wonderful way to brighten up your bubbles.
As Johnny says, “With the fresh, floral blooms springing forth in gardens around the country, it’s a great time to drink JJ Whitley Elderflower. We like it as an accompaniment to a glass of sparkling wine, as the sun comes out from behind the clouds!”
For a true taste of spring, try a Daresbury Garden Party. Taking its name from Thomas Whitley’s vicarage garden, it’s perfect to sip when the flowers are in bloom!