Mandarin Limes: The Marette Du Haute Vinery
Botanically known as Citrus x Limonia, the Mandarin Limes that grow in the Marette Du Haute Vinery’s glasshouses on Guernsey are the headline ingredient of our Mandarin Lime and Hibiscus Gin. Also known as Rangpur or Rosa Limes, these initially unexceptional looking fruit have a rather romantic history.
Thought to be originally from the Indian Subcontinent, the Mandarin Lime was recorded by Sir Joseph Hooker (an eminent botanist and close friend of Darwin) as a slender tree growing in the bottom of valleys in the foothills of the Himalayas. Bought back by our intrepid forebears it, along with many other cuttings and seeds, now grow together with indigenous species in the gardens of the British Isles, helping to create the United Kingdom’s unique garden landscape.
Guernsey’s horticultural heritage is rich. In its heyday, as Britain boomed in its industrial revolution, glass houses covered seven percent of the island. The ports would have buzzed with cargo boats sailing produce from our more clement island to the mainland to feed the appetites of the new class of business and trader families, who had wealth to display and a taste for the unusual.
The 1970s saw the decline of Guernsey’s horticultural and market gardening industries and, until very recently, many of the glasshouses stood empty with untended plants and weeds sprouting from the broken panes. In recent years however, these glass houses have been coaxed back to life and are, once again, producing fabulous fruits, vegetables and flowers. Something that should really be celebrated.
One particular glasshouse and grower is especially important to us at Wheadon’s: The Marette Du Haute Vinery, under the watchful eye and gifted green fingers of Joyce Hardy, is our supplier of Mandarin Limes. These fruit are a happy success story. Joyce acquired old, unpromising looking and unlabelled vines several years ago. She planted these vines without knowing quite what would grow and has created a glass covered grove of various citrus, all flourishing and bearing fruit.
We raise our glasses to you Joyce.
The Mandarin Lime and Hibiscus Wheadon’s Gin has a beautifully balanced and complex flavour and thus we feel that, rather than gilding the lily, this gin is best served simply over ice in a goblet glass with a freshly opened ice cold tonic and a wedge of lime.