A Story Steeped in Drama.
Supply chains aren’t known for their drama (or reliability for that matter!). So when we were started developing our new blood orange & rosemary gin, little did we know how explosive things would become. Just as our blood oranges were preparing for harvest, the volcano they were sat next to erupted. Typical!
A natural disaster of this magnitude was surely going to derail our progress. As is turned out, it didn’t make a tiny bit of difference. The citrus fruits of Sicily loved eruptions.
Why are Blood Oranges Red?
Blood oranges are highly prized for their distinctive red pigment. The pigment comes from chemicals called anthocyanin’s. The blushed flesh not only looks amazing, it has many health benefits from fighting cancer to lowering blood pressure.
Blood Oranges to fight Scurvy (when it’s not steeped in gin)!
Back in the 1800, it was a different substance contained within the fruit that defined its utility. In fact this substance was so important it was considered vital for national security. That substance was Vitamin C….
The great European empires built their power using their naval ingenuity. However, sailing to the opposite side of the globe to plunder and pillage was difficult. One of the main obstacles was keeping your crew alive. Sailors would often lose their teeth, then drop down dead. Highly annoying! It was only after the seminal work of James Lind that scurvy was studied and later eradicated: using citrus fruits.
Blood Orange & Rosemary Gin and the Sicilian link.
Sicily has the perfect climate for growing citrus fruits and has cultivated them steadily since 850AD. Farmer’s made modest gains over the centuries growing fruits. Nothing prepared them for what would follow the publication of James Lind’s discoveries. Suddenly, citrus enjoyed unprecedented demand, and the prices sky-rocketed.
The Birth of the Mafia from Lemons & Blood Oranges
Sicily wasn’t ready for the citrus boom. There were few institutions able to protect people’s property from marauding brigades, so the farmer’s took matters into their own hands. Unwilling to part with their prized cash crop they employed local strongmen to protect their farms. These strongmen known as the “mafia” were held in high esteem. Violence being the tool of their trade.
California’s citrus producers caught up. Sicily’s boom days were numbered and the mafia were at a loose end. “Protection” was all they knew. In the absence of customers, they packed their bags and headed west to the land of opportunity. The rest is history.
The Violent Eruptions of Mount Etna.
The blood oranges from the groves of Sicily have perfect growing conditions. A warm climate, gentle sea breezes and a continuous source of micronutrients that these fruits demand. The source of the abundant micro-nutrients come from Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano. The last major eruption was in February of this year, as our oranges were gearing themselves up for the harvested. Just before all hell broke loose. Volcanic eruptions cause mayhem for local residents, while farmers often talk of them being lucky. If I had someone fertilise my enormous fields in a few days, I’d feel lucky too. Our Blood Orange & Rosemary gin have to thank these volcanic eruptions for creating the perfect growing conditions for our