An entrepreneur who quit his job in finance to set up a drinks business has made a unique thirst-quencher entirely from one of Scotland’s most prolific weeds – the stinging nettle.
Hugo Morrissey, from Edinburgh, launched his product idea just before the pandemic hit the UK in March.
Despite business shutting down left and right, the 27-year-old didn’t let lockdown restrictions hold him back.
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He spent months in West Lothian’s countryside harvesting thousands nettles which can now be found in the form a refreshing, sparkling drink in Edinburgh’s cafes and shops.
“I spent most of lockdown in fields of nettles,” Hugo said, “which was actually more enjoyable than it might sound.
“Working in asset management became demoralising and I enjoyed nothing more than spending a lot of time working outside in the countryside.”
To use nettles for commercial use, the entrepreneur said they have to come from private land and are best harvested in the Spring.
Luckily for Hugo, the owners of Hopetoun Estate in West Lothian gave him permission to go wild with harvesting the herbaceous plants during April and May.
“My original plan was to organise foraging days at the estate to get more people involved with the picking,” the former Edinburgh University student said, “but lockdown happened so I just had to do it on my own.
“I picked so much, overall it took about 60 hours of picking to make 9,000 bottles, which are now being distributed to businesses around Edinburgh and the UK.”
Hugo’s drink, aptly named Nuisance, is made from a unique nettle cordial mixed with sparkling water and a bit of sugar before being carbonated and pasteurised.
While he won’t reveal the secret to his recipe, he can assure customers it’s made from handpicked, locally sourced nettles and has less than half the amount of sugar in compared to a can of Coke.
“It’s certainly a healthier option to most contemporary fizzy drinks you find on the shelf, “ he said.
“Before making this drink I didn’t realise how good nettles were for you.
“They are packed with vitamin A, C and some B vitamins and are often used in herbal medicine.”
With one recipe already taking off Hugo is working on a second health drink with Scottish Rural College.
“I am interested to see what this collaboration will come up with,” Hugo said.
“At the moment there are experts working with flavours such as ginger and turmeric to see what works best for an even healthier alternative.
“I haven’t dismissed pairing it with alcohol though. It makes a good mixer for spirits, and goes particularly well with Vermouth.”
Nuisance is available in all the following Edinburgh stores: Margiotta, Nomad Cafe, Roselaf Bar Cafe, 305 Kitchen, The Wonder Spot, Troy Cafe Bistro, Beetroot Sauvage, Razzo Pizza Napoletana, Roots, Love Peace & Coffee, Relish Leith, MINT, Don’t Tell Mama, Cafe Montagu & Deli, East Pizzas, KAUAI, Format/ Half 8, Fire & Dough, Tani Modi and Peppers Sandwich Bar, Ostara Cafe
To find out about stockists in Glasgow and England visit Nuisance website here.