I read this debate on Annie's blog this week, in…
Today is #WorldGinDay. A day to celebrate gin. I like this. Anybody know when #WorldBiscuitDay is held?
Last year I dragged Mr B to the Good Food Show in Birmingham. We had a great day. Mostly because in the Press Room at the beginning (what? Oh yes, darling. All days out now involve a Press Room or we just don’t get out of bed) of the day we heard a lovely talk from Tom of Warner Edwards. A new gin company on the block. Making gin so good you can drink it neat. It set the tone for whole day and when we found their stand I didn’t really want to leave.
In fact we only left when I had been promised that we could visit and see gin being made.
Now I have a confession to make here. Up to that point I didn’t like gin. The closest I have got to gin is when it is in a Martini. Did you know I like Martini? You may not have noticed. Anyway. I didn’t drink gin. But as I learnt that day, it is the tonic I don’t like, not the gin. Gin and lemonade? Hello. Gin with elderflower or cucumber? Double hello.
With that in mind we decided to go and visit these boys in their distillery in Northamptonshire. Oh and if it involves a day out and gin you have to go with that Mammasaurus. You can’t do something gin related and not involve Annie. It’s law, what with her being Chief Gin Monkey.
We arrived and after a swift cuppa Tom showed us all there is to know about making gin in a converted farm building in middle England. Air miles for this product are virtually nil, the water comes from one of the springs on the farm’s land.
The ethanol is shipped in (there are strict rules and regulations on the selling and storage of this product.
There is an ancient law that says you may not produce ethanol and gin in the same still. So if you are in the business of making gin, you need to buy your ethanol in. The same rules don’t apply to brandy or vodka production. Gin is much easier to make and could be lethal so it was felt this was a good way to regulate production, and safeguard the public. The side effect of that is that these days HMRC controls very carefully the supply of ethanol as they collect their duty at the point of production. And even though gin production is much safer these days clearly HMRC are in no rush to relax these rules.
Now I have a confession to make. I once tried to make alcohol. For a number of reasons this was a mistake. First off it involved a sturdy rubber bin and lots of oranges. I was in a country where alcohol in any form is banned, even in mouthwash. Possession can lead to deportation. Or worse. I am serious. My surname was Brewin. My parents owned a very successful vineyard in France making award winning wine. I was a Daily Mail headline waiting to happen. And that nearly happened when I didn’t realise that you had to leave the bin lid off when you are fermenting hooch. I didn’t. I pushed it on firmly and left for three weeks as instructed.
Have you ever seen a rubber dustbin that was upright so distorted from build up of gasses whilst fermenting that it resembles a giant football? No. Nor had I to up to that point.
So yeah, I know something about lethal alcohol production and know to leave it to the experts like Warner Edwards.
Their still was a thing of absolute beauty and I wish I could convey to you the smell of the mash in the bottom of it. This was the left overs from the last production and smelled like the most amazing Christmas pudding you ever smelled. If I could have shoved my face in there, believe me I would.
There were lots of lovely touches of history closer to home as we heard how the building itself had been an old barn and in fact Tom had celebrated his 12th birthday there. The table that was used for cutting the wire to go around the neck had been his granny’s. And simply has two marks on it, one saying “long” and one saying “short” to show where the wire should be cut. The bottles are dipped in wax kept warm in a slow cooker in the corner. They need to cut ribbon to a certain length and this measured using a magazine that had been in the office when they started a couple of years ago as its length is the perfect size.
Warner Edwards might have only been in production of eighteen months but it is already steeped in history and I love that.
Suffice to say we had an amazing couple of hours learning about gin and how to make and sell it. If you are ever in Northampton do look the boys up and give them a call to see if you can have a peek at what they do.
They have samples so make sure you are passing in a taxi.
The gin is available to buy on their website in a few different flavours, from £33 and in select retailers.