We are super stoked about the new Thirsty Whale Elixir flavours, so this week’s vendor highlight features Thirsty Whale’s Lia Padgett:
Hello, I am Lia Padgett, owner, operator and chief bottle washer of Thirsty Whale Elixirs (last part is very relevant, as I just sanitised 38 dozen bottles, by hand, which I am going to be filling, by hand, this weekend).
The concept for Thirsty Whale Elixirs started in the summer of 2014, when a friend (who knew I was looking for a unique food product to bring to market) mention the word ‘Shrub’. Like many of you, I had no idea what Shrubs were and within five months I had started a business, bringing to Canada its first retail-ready gourmet shrubs.
So what exactly are shrubs?
I can tell you this much, they have nothing to do with dirt and leaves.
They are actually naturally concentrated raw syrups made with organic apple cider vinegar, fruit and cane sugar. Each 500 ml bottle will make around 21 cocktails or sodas. Serve them bubbly or still, hot or cold, with or without alcohol.
Now you are wondering, why start a business producing a product that no one knows about with a weird name?
Well, I grew up in the beautiful Pemberton Valley on my family’s farm (Across the Creek Organics, my uncle is kinda ‘famous’ in the organic potato world) and I have always had a love of producing and preserving food. Growing up, we picked beans and carrots out of the garden and turned them into spicy beans and carrots, canned peaches and cherries from the Okanagan, made tomato sauce and salsa from Lillooet tomatoes and peppers, to enjoy in the cold winter months.
When I started learning about and experiment with Shrubs, I realised that like potato farming, Shrubs have a long and unique history and in making them I satisfy my desire to preserve the ‘taste of summer’ all-year-round for people of all ages to enjoy. Similarly to pickling vegetables, which I do a lot of in the summer months, I am now ‘pickling’ fruit. I know this sounds weird, but something ‘magical’ happens when you mix fruit, good vinegar and sugar together. After a week of ‘brewing’ I use an apple cider press to get the last drops of syrup out of the mixture (fruit juice, vinegar and sugar). At first this has a bit of a vinegar ‘bite’, but after a week in the bottle (this is where the magic comes in) the vinegar mellows and you are left with a delicious, sweet and tangy and slightly thickened syrup that has the ability to add a wonderful acidity to cocktails, and to create healthy fruit forward sodas.
I have built relationships with local BC farmers to buy their ‘b-grade’ fruits, as I don’t need ‘pretty’ fruit to make my shrubs. My intention is to buy as much local fruit in season as I need, so by the end of 2016 I can use 100% BC grown fruits. The organic apple cider vinegar comes directly from a producer in Ontario, as there is a very limited supply of local BC apple vinegars.
I have developed the following flavours:
Apple Spice – Great hot or cold with Whisky/Rye or Spiced Rum
Cranberry Ginger – Gin, need I say more
Strawberry Rhubarb – Mojitos or ‘Shrub-jitos’ if you’d like
Peach Vanilla Cardamom – Mimosas, Mimosas, Mimosas
Blueberry Lavender – Compliment everything – Gin, Vodka, Whisky and more
Pear Thyme – Delicious, more savory and a winter-seasonal – Vodka, Gin etc.