Made in Hackney: The Tudor liqueur that no one’s tasted for centuries is back

Source: Hackney Gazette

Each week, the Gazette takes to the streets to unearth something being manufactured right here in Hackney. This week we visit Sweetdram’s HQ in Gillett Street to find out what, precisely, royal usquebaugh is.

Andrew Smith and Daniel Fisher set out to create a liqueur popular in Tudor times they’d only read about in ancient distilling manuals.

Royal usquebaugh was a spicy citrus-y cordial coloured with saffron and the only British liqueur that migrated from Britain to the continent. The French renamed it “escubac” before it became obsolete.

Under the name Sweetdram, the pair spent 18 months in their Dalston micro-distillery tinkering with different weights and measures of the dried plants and botanicals it is made from, until they found the right balance.

Daniel said: “We wanted to design a modern spirit that could be served with tonic like gin, but wasn’t gin, so our signature simple serve is escubac with tonic and lemon – the ‘E and T’.”

They don’t have the space in Gillett Street to create the volume needed to distribute to the seven countries it is sold in, so they travel to a bigger distillery in France four times a year to produce it. But this summer they will bring out two liqueurs distilled in Dalston.

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