"Mummy, how is gin made?" - Annie Spratt, aged 1 day old
Now I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before but I'm rather partial to gin. Oh ok then, I'll fess up, I'm a gin hound. I love the stuff. When my good friend Tanya asked if I'd like to travel up to Harrington, Northampton with her for a tour of the gin makers, Warner Edwards, who make gin so smooth that it can be drunk neat, I was in the car and buckled up faster than you can say 'Hold the tonic'. Turns out that despite drinking copious amounts of the stuff, I actually knew little about how gin was made - a complete travesty I'm sure you will agree.
So, because I'm not shy of learning a thing or two and am generally a brave hero, I enjoyed a couple of hours in the company of Tom Warner (the Warner of Warner Edwards - and yes they are like Ant & Dec, they only ever stand a certain way round), listening about the history of their company, how they make gin and, because has already been mentioned, I am indeed a hero, I even sampled some gin. I know, I know, the selfless things I do in the name of research... Enough of my banter, take a look for yourselves.
First of all this is an important part of Warner Edwards gin below, no not grass, this isn't bovine gin, the land. Their farm and its historically terraced fields provides the natural spring water that goes into the gin - with every bottle sold containing 56% natural spring water.
Nestled in the rather idyllic village of Harrington is Falls Farm aka Warner Edwards Gin HQ...
Behold! This is where the magic happens, behold the Warner Edwards still, lovingly named 'Curiosity'. Curiosity is a bespoke manufactured German made Arnold Holstien still, chosen by Tom (Warner) and Sion (Edwards) because of it's fine qualities - the most unique of which is its patented catalyzer, a large section which sits atop the distillation tower and helps make the gin so pure. The still is also future proof, in years to come the possibility of expanding into vodka or whisky for example is a possibility with this still.
This of one of the two men that can and do make exceptionally fine gin, Tom Warner.
Eleven botanicals go in to making Warner Edwards gin, these include orange peel, cardamon, coriander seed, juniper berries and black pepper.
Getting to grips with some 90% proof gin.
The wire that goes round the tops of the bottles is snipped and put on to the bottle by hand. Measured out on an old parlour table to two marks 'short' or 'long', we watched as a young chap Jordan measured the copper wire and snipped away.
Next Jordan showed us the wire going on to the bottles, using a custom made drill attachment.
Now for the bottling, this might look like a cow milking pump thing-ma-jiggy to you (technical farming term there, don't worry your pretty little heads about that), but it is in fact what fills the bottles with gin. This bad boy can fill 500 bottles an hour.
After the filling comes the ribbon. A strip of ribbon round to top of each bottle attached by glue gun, pre-waxing, to remove the wax seal to allow the all important drinking experience. Like all things at Warner Edwards, the ribbon cutting is unique, with the ribbon being measured to examples of an old copy of a foodie magazine, it was the magazine they used to tape the ribbon on when they made their first batch of gin in 2012 and it's remained the way to measure it to this day.
Tom demonstrated how the tops of bottles are waxed and I had a go myself. It was really good to have a hands on experience like this.
And naturally having seen how the gin is made and bottles it only seemed right to buy a few bottles to take home - and oh my the sloe gin is incredible.
I could tell you how much I love Warner Edwards gin all day long. Not only is it great gin (don't just take my word for it, it won Double Gold in the San Francisco Word Spirits Competition this year) but the Warner Edwards are craftsmen, this is gin with character, made with love by people who have carved out their own traditions along the way, their story shining through in the quality of their product.
Info: Warner Edwards make:
Harrington Dry Gin (£33 70cl) - Smooth gin you can drink neat, hand on heart THE best gin I have ever tasted.
Harrington First Batch (£50 70cl) - Bottles from the first batch of which there are only 700. Each bottle is numbered 001 to 700 of 0001.
Slow Gin (£27 70cl)- infused with hand picked local sloes, from the countryside in England and Wales. Not as sugary tasting as other sloe gins I've tasted, this is a beautiful joy to drink neat. It's also the best thing to add to Prosecco, oh my, try it and you'll be thanking me forever more.
Elderflower Infused Gin (£33 70cl)- Warner Edwards award winning Harrington Dry Gin infused with fresh elderflower petals, handpicked from the hedgerows around their farms. Perfect Summer drinking
For more details, to buy the best gin you are going to taste anywhere and to find out more of the history check out the Warner Edwards website or if you are feeling chatty say hello to them on Twitter @Warner_Edwards