Walking, cycling or even driving along with the windows open, the sweet almond, honey and slight medicated aroma wafts around you. It is meadowsweet ’s distinctive honey-like saccharinity that has long into the past been harnessed to make sweet ales and wines, or meads; hence it is also known as Meadwort.
While it is sweet for brewing purposes, meadowsweet has been used as a remedy akin to aspirin due to it containing salicylic acid from which aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) was first found in the 19th Century. Herbalists often turn to meadowsweet as an alternative as it is believed not to have the same damaging effects to the stomach lining that aspirin may have.
However, here we are using meadowsweet in the same way as elderflower, making a meadowsweet sparkling wine, which really is quite simple. The adapted elderflower recipe we used is on wafer thin typewriting paper, delicately keyed across and beyond the coffee stained edges, some of the instructions falling out of the margins. The recipe was given to us many, many moons ago from a kindly old couple who used to live in the north of Islay, now happily retired, and in their 90s on the mainland.