BBC Good Food Show Bloggers Day Out at Warner Edwards Gin

image

A few weeks back I was invited, as one of the BBC Good Food Show bloggers, to visit Warner Edwards gin distillery in Northamptonshire.  As a local Northamptonshire girl and a fan of their gin already, there was no way I was going to pass this one up! So, with the day booked off work and the services of my husband employed as my chauffeur for the day, I went the 15 miles from my home to the beautiful little village of Harrington, where their distillery is based.

Tom (Warner) and Sion (Edwards) met at agricultural college and have been the best of friends ever since. They are both from farming backgrounds and the distillery is actually based in a converted barn on Tom’s parents’ family farm, where the water they use to manufacture the gin and cut the alcohol is taken from one of the many natural springs which emerge from the land on the terraced fields upon which the farm looks.

After arriving and being met by Sion, we were taken indoors to meet their beautiful copper Arnold Holstein Still called ‘Curiosity’. Why is she called Curiosity? Well, the story goes (and there are paw prints to prove it), that when they laid the concrete floor ready for the still, they came back the next morning to find cat paw prints embossed into the now dry concrete; so as the saying goes “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back”.

image

image

One of the first thing that hits you as you enter the distillery, along with the warmth, is the distinctive smell of the juniper and the other ten botanicals that they use in their distilling process, which includes coriander and nutmeg. The beautiful patina on the copper is produced by the heat of the process within creates some gorgeous colours.

image

The gin distillation process takes approximately 7 hours, with the spring water, barley, grains and botanicals being added to the gleaming 500 litre pot.  The copper in the pot natrurally absorbs the acids, cyanides and carbonates that the botanicals add to the sprit.  From there, the spirit is distilled through the 4.3m high column of 8 bubble plates, a defleginator and a catalyser to produce the spirit which is then cut down to 44% ABV using the natural spring water from the farm.

Their first batch was brewed in November 2012 as a Harrington Dry Gin. From there, in 2013 they introduced their light and fragrant Elderflower Gin, made from locally picked elderflowers near both Tom & Sion’s family farms in Northamptonshire and Wales. Their limited edition of 2000 bottles sold out in next to no time and surprised them with it’s popularity! Next to be introduced into the Warner Edwards gin family came their Sloe Gin in December 2013, followed by their latest creation of Victoria’s Rhubarb Gin in September 2014. The rhubarb used to create this gin has firm roots and history traceable to the Buckingham Palace garden of Queen Victoria herself.

image

imageThe intital aim from Tom and Sion was to produce a spirit that you were able to drink both neat as well as with a mixer, and they have certainly achieved this with their current range of 4 delicious gins. They had to perform their initial research (carried out in the local pub) twice, because by the end of the first night and the end of the glasses of lots of different gins, they realised they hadn’t taken any notes.  So off home to sober up and start the process anew WITH note taking this time!

In 2013, within 6 months of their launch, Warner Edwards won a Silver in the prestigious San Francisco World Spirit Awards, followed by a very impressive Double Gold Award in 2014.

Currently you can buy Warner Edwards award winning gin directly from them, or from Fortnum & Masons, Marks & Spencer as well as Waitrose and independant retailers.

image

Thanks to the BBC Good Food Show organisers, River Street Events, for the invitation, and to Warner Edwards for their hospitality. Together, with the lovely Alex From Gingey Bites Blog, we raise our glasses to your continued sucess, and join you in becoming ‘United in Sprit’. Cheers!

 

image

Ndali vanilla gift swap

IMG_0976
I’ve been invited to take part in the Ndali Vanilla Swap that’s taking place at Fortnum & Mason’sprestigious store in Piccadilly, London on Monday 24th September. The event is also in association with Kenwood and The Fair Trade Foundation and has been organised by Vanessa Kimble, author of Prepped.
IMG_0942
The criteria of the afternoon involves us making or baking a product, or products, in up to 4 categories:
1. Biscuits
2. Cake/cupcakes
3. Sweets
4. Preserves
I’ve chosen to enter the biscuit & the cake categories with two recipes that I will share with you here.
For my biscuit recipe, I’m making a rustic vanilla, oat, cranberry & white chocolate biscuit. Whilst my cake is a rich vanilla infused elderflower sponge with a vanilla bean frosting and decorated with fondant.
IMG_0936
IMG_0976 IMG_0975  As the name suggests, it’s a gift swap in as much as we produce our creations to go in to a draw, according to the category entered. We are then lucky enough to draw an equivalent gift which has been lovingly created by a fellow attendee which we will no doubt marvel at and possibly enjoy on the train home later that evening.
We each have some wonderful Ndali vanilla product to use in our creations. I really can’t recommend their vanilla powder enough! The fragrance is sublime, whilst the taste is incredibly intense, yet gentle at the same time; a truly amazing product! Along with the Ndali vanilla, we will be using Fairtrade products where possible.
To give you a potted history of Ndali vanilla; Lulu Sturdy inherited a former tea plantation and, after experimenting with other crops, settled on vanilla. She now grows premium quality Fair Trade vanilla on her organic 1,000 acre mixed tropical farm, Ndali. She also processes the individual vanilla crops of hundreds of small farmers who she has helped to gain Fair Trade deals. Growing, hand pollinating, harvesting and processing are all highly labour intensive. The cream of the crop is packaged under the Fair Trade ‘Ndali’ brand for retail. There are still a lot of farmers in the area who do not have Fair Trade deals.
Fair Trade makes an incredible difference to the lives of producers; it’s not just a brand. Learning about these growers has convinced me that the deals brokered through Fair Trade make a huge difference to the lives of the farmers and their families. Many are subject to exploitation by unscrupulous traders.
You can’t fail to be moved by one farmer’s statement: “We don’t want charity, we just want a fair price for what we have grown”
Demand for vanilla outstrips the supply of vanilla beans and, sadly, most UK vanilla flavouring is synthetic with the vast majority of it going into manufactured foods. In home baking, we can avoid this ‘vanilla essence’ and buy pure vanilla in pods, extract and powder form. Of course, its more expensive than it’s synthetic substitute, but in terms of quality and flavour, there really is no substitute worth considering. Next time you shop for vanilla please consider not only the quality of the product that you’re buying, but also the life changes you are helping to make for the Ugandan vanilla growers and pay a fair price.