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Ingredient story: Salal. Use What You're Given

Updated: Jun 28, 2021

For thousands of years the first nations of the Pacific Northwest relied on our native Salal berry. In the coastal climate the combination of high nutritive value and natural preservatives made Salal a primary food source and trade item for the peoples of this area. With cultural change and agricultural dominance we have all but abandoned wild foods in favor of cultivated crops. As a modern inhabitant of the Pacific Northwest, I have set out to highlight the distinctive salal berry for myself and for you.

Sweet and umami salal berries have flavor notes of huckleberry, truffle, and green olive

With every JAZ Spirits product, the beginning of my process is to honor the ingredient by finding the most compelling expression of its character. Salal berries have a rich umami sweetness inside tannic skins. They taste of the deep forest with suggestions of huckleberry, truffle, and green olive. With so much depth and structure within the fruit, I took inspiration from European producers of Sloe Gin, Creme de Cassis, and Mirto. All of these products similarly utilize a prolific dark fruit with interesting flavors that aren’t usually eaten out of hand. Rather than ignore the unfavored fruits around them, folks celebrate them, and turn them into unique regional delicacies. That is my mission with JAZ Spirits' Salal Berry Liqueur.

Wild salal is harvested in August by Faith and her family

I harvest salal berries with my family from the Siuslaw national forest where the salty ocean air bakes onto groves of berries each summer. It gives the berries a briny structure which enhances the deep flavors of the salal in my liqueur. The whole berries are packed into barrels of pure neutral spirits and fresh water. They macerate slowly for two months to get full extraction of color, flavor, and texture. The slow process sets it apart from other liqueurs since there is no fast way to achieve the velvety richness of our liqueur.

Every bottle of our spirits invite you to step into the traditions of our forest. You can only find Salal Berry Liqueur in Oregon. Some of the bottles will find their way to liquor store shelves, and some will be sold directly, but all of them pass from the forest through my hands and into your glass.

~Salal Cider Spritz~

1 oz Salal Berry Liqueur

4 oz dry hard cider, chilled

Pour into a champagne flute, garnish with a lime wheel.


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