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Beech Leaf Noyau

VegetarianVeganDairy FreeGluten Free

This sweet, nutty, gin-based liqueur can be drunk just three weeks after preparation – though if you can manage to leave it for longer you will be rewarded with an even deeper, more rounded flavour. You’ll need a wide-necked jar with an airtight lid of at least 750ml capacity (or use several smaller ones) and two empty 700ml bottles (one of which could be the bottle the gin comes in).

The name ‘noyau’ comes from the French word for the stones of fruits such as peaches or apricots, which were used to make almond-flavoured liqueurs known as ‘crème de noyau’. This version, using newly emerged beech leaves, is said to originate with the bodgers (forest woodworkers) of the Chiltern hills in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Serve the chilled noyau neat or over ice.

Makes : 1.4 litres
Prep : 20 minutes plus 3 weeks steeping
Cook :
  • Young, tender, translucent beech leaves, enough to fill your jars
  • 1 × 700ml bottle gin
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 350ml brandy


  1. Loosely pack beech leaves into your jar(s), and pour in the gin. Ensure all of the leaves are immersed – use the handle of a clean wooden spoon to push them down if necessary, and remove any that don’t stay submerged. Put the lids on the jars, make a note of the date of bottling, and store in a cool, dark place for at least 3 weeks.
  2. Strain the infused gin through a sieve into a jug or bowl, allowing the leaves to drip as much gin as possible before you discard them.
  3. In a separate jug, mix the caster sugar with 350ml warm water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Leave to cool. Add the brandy and cooled sugar water to the gin, mix well and pour into two sterilised 700ml bottles.
  4. You can either drink the noyau immediately, or leave it to mature for another month or so.


Recipe by Wild Food UK; development and photos by Otherwise for Wild Food UK


14 comments for Beech Leaf Noyau

  1. Chas says:

    You don’t put the sugar in with the leaves?

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      no we add it after the infusion.

  2. Rod Wheatley says:

    I made this last year for the first time and it was wonderful. Everyone says how the taste has a herby flavour reminiscent of Benedictine. I have today gathered a new crop of Beech leaves for this year’s batch.

  3. George McKnight says:

    Could you do it in a plastic bucket or larger container, as I’m thinking how do you get all the leaves out of the bottles once finished if you want to reuse the bottles?

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      There’s nothing wrong with using a bucket, not only is it easier to remove the leaves but you will be making larger quantities of Noyau!

    2. Catharine says:

      I use large coffee jars, that works well

  4. Ian Braidwood says:

    I’m thinking of making this, but it doesn’t say how much gin to use. (A 1ltr, 70cl or .5cl?)

    Also, I thought I’d try whisky instead of brandy.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I usually use a 70cl bottle but it’s always good to experiment with recipes. Good luck with the whisky, let me know if it works.

  5. Jenn says:

    do you remove the leaves and discard after 3 weeks?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The leaves can be left in the bottle or the bottle drained to separate the leaves, it’s personal choice.

  6. helen murphy says:

    Are the leaves in july too tough to make the gin?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The leaves need to be used when soft and almost translucent for about the first three to four weeks of being out so I would think it is too late now but I have never tried at this time of year and if you have any young beech hedges nearby they may still have some new soft leaves growing.

  7. John says:

    When the recipe says loosely pack the leaves, I take it you mean loose enough to let the gin circulate round them but still get a good load of them in?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      We all make it differently, I jam pack an empty gin bottle with leaves and still manage to fit nearly all the gin back in.

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