Founded in 2002, Sloemotion is a small family business based at Green Farm, in the village of Barton-le-Willows, just north of York and nearby to the market town of Malton in North Yorkshire.
Jonathan Curtoys (Joff) and his wife Claire took on Sloemotion in 2006, having established the business with North Yorkshire farming neighbours back in 2002. Together, they had been proactive in returning tracts of the farm to wildlife habitats. This meant planting protective grass and wildflower borders along hedgerows, and ceasing the regular cutting of hedges to allow fruit to develop as an important food source for birds and small mammals. Before long, large amounts of sloes began to fruit on the blackthorn bushes. Paradoxically, almost no wildlife will touch the sloe berry as the taste is so bitter. But to Joff and his neighbours, who had all grown up drinking home-made sloe gin, an idea began to take shape and Sloemotion was born.
While their neighbours wanted to pursue other farming ideas, Joff decided to take on the embryonic business and has, with some essential investor backing, over the last 10 years extended the product lines from the original Sloe Gin and popular Sloe Whisky to a range of up to nine hedgerow fruit liqueurs as well as their Yorkshire Fruit Cup No 7. Once the drinks have been produced, they decided to take the fruit from the liqueur making process, too good to throw away, and make unique products such as luxurious chocolate truffles, chutneys and jellies.
In September 2007, Joff’s brother Julian Curtoys joined Sloemotion as Director of Production and Finance; with his talent-base from his past life as a mechanical engineer, his eye for precision and detail is invaluable to the business.
Now in 2016, the company employs 12 people, all of whom live within the Ryedale area and currently 4 live in the village – a truly local company in every way – Joff and Claire moved recently to live ‘over the hedge’ from Sloemotion HQ with their children, Harry and Isobel and their white, four-legged, friend Patch.
With Joff’s background as a trained conservationist and then policy advisor on agricultural issues for the RSPB, the ethos and background of Sloemotion is one of respect for the environment. His passion for wildlife conservation and the environment is ever at the heart of each decision made at Sloemotion. When not at his desk, he can often be found keeping an eye on his wildflower mini-meadow, outside his office.
A decade on and the Sloemotion team still believe that great taste and quality ingredients are what makes the brand stand out from the rest. Sloemotion are unceasingly planning and developing ideas and recipes for new lines in production. It is a great team effort and each member of the business plays an important role in this. Ever innovative, they continue to have plenty of ideas for ‘life on the hedge’!
Enjoy ambling through the Sloemotion website. Take it sloe-ly!
Sloe gin is one of life’s quintessentially British pleasures and Sloemotion’s Yorkshire provenance makes it even more special to me