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”.
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.
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.
The 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.
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!