Bog myrtle in other drinks
The line shouldn’t be drawn at using bog myrtle just for beer. Apart from appearing in the botanist and some other less noteworthy gins, it can be used in Vermouth. Mark Williams makes a vermouth that has pedants (like me) screaming inside, as he doesn’t always use wormwood. Aside from this massive booze nomenclature faux pas, he makes a great drink and the bog myrtle really works as in combination with other flavours and so he is forgiven. Personally, I think this is really where it shines, as something that works in combination with other flavours.
The flavour itself is rather hard to describe perhaps the closest I can think of is like root beer or mouthwash. That kind of perfumed, yet medicinal flavour which I think can pair well with citrus. If using in a vermouth I’d suggest drying the leaves on newspaper for a couple of days then infusing in 400ml of 40% vodka for anything from 2 days to three months, depending on what flavour you are after. Tasting as you go and filtering and straining as the flavour develops. There is never a hard and fast rule when it comes to timings for infusions. Obviously, there are guidelines, but increasingly I go by the taste.
As an insect repellent
Those who find themselves in the lucky position to visit the West Coast of Scotland may be pleased to hear another use for this highly aromatic and slightly wayward plant as it is has been used as an insect repellent. Reportedly, Scottish crofters would tie sprigs of bog myrtle to their ankles to help repel midges. Apparently, you have to crush the leaves to help release the scent. I say apparently as everyone I have asked about the efficacy of bog myrtle has suggested that the midge repellant properties are vastly overrated.
A final word on bog myrtle
Whether you are using bog myrtle to put yourself into some kind of narcotic state or trying desperately to rid yourself of the midge menace, do be aware that it has once been used as an abortifacient. If you do brew a beer with it then perhaps give me a call and I’ll happily help you drink it first thing in the morning.