A local agriculturalist, Juan Robles Sanchez, has developed a new strain of lemon. By crossing quince (membrillo) and juniper (enerbro) with a special strain of Fino 49 he has produced fruit that combines the flavours of each.
As an experiment, Juan left some of the fruit on the trees to mature longer than normal. What he found was that juice inside the fruit started to ferment and thus produced alcohol. The higher sugar levels, induced by the crossings, meant that the alcohol content was close to 20% by volume.
At first the flavour of the juice was unbalanced but with careful selective crossings he has produced a fruit with a juice which closely resembles lemon flavoured gin and tonic.
So far only one tree has successfully produced a reliable crop of gin and tonic flavoured fruit. But by carefully selecting seed and avoiding cross fertilisation, Juan plans to have up to 100 hundred "gin and tonic" trees planted next year. In future this could result in thousands of the culitivars being raised across the Vega Baja.
The local Brotherhood of Growers view this as a major breakthrough which could change the fortunes of the area. It will however need an amendment to the law to bring the crop to market because of the change in definition. Is the product a fruit juice or an alcoholic drink?
In the meantime friends of Juan are enjoying the benefits of his research claiming that the juice has medicinal properties!