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Review

Warner Edwards
Elderflower Infused Gin

Distillery

Warner Edwards Distillery, Falls Farm, Harrington, Northamptonshire, England, UK.

Website

Warner Edwards.

History

Tom Warner is from Falls Farm, Harrington, Northamptonshire in England and Sion Edwards is from Bryngwyn Mawr Farm (Big White Hill Farm), Rhuallt, near St. Asaph, Denbighshire in North Wales. In 1997 they met at agricultural college (Harper Adams University) and, coming from farming families and sharing a mutual love of rugby, became firm friends.

At the end of college they went back to their individual lives, always frustrated by the struggling lifestyle for farmers, although keeping their friendship alive (both being Best Man at each others wedding). However, they had always discussed starting a business themselves and over the next decade or so they tentatively looked at and discussed possible options. By 2010 these discussions had become earnest and it was clear they liked farming and wanted to do something allied with or complimentary to this industry and, as sometimes happens, one idea generated further thoughts.

The key idea was to produce essential oils from crops they would grow on the farm in Wales (e.g. lavender). To produce the oil, distillation equipment would be required, but this would mean this expensive still would sit idle outside of the growing season. So they looked at other uses and came up with the idea of producing alcohol. Once this idea had germinated they began planning to make Vodka on the farm in Wales. However, a key component of any good liquor is a quality source of water. It just so happens Falls Farm is described as being “built on rock and water”, with an abundance of natural springs across the farm (once the site of a medieval manor house). Fortunately, following a tasting from the 6 various springs, the best and sweetest water was also near to a barn that was available – now their dream had a venue and work could start in making it come true.

After nearly 3-years of hard (physical, mental and paper) work not to mention experimentation, the distillery was completed in the early winter of 2012 (following the arrival of their bespoke still in October), and safely housed in their 200-year-old barn they had converted for the purpose. One change to the plan was they liked Gin & Whisky, both providing greater artisanal creativity than Vodka, and they wanted to make great quality spirits with flavor. So, with Whisky potentially taking numerous years to produce they decided to drop the Vodka idea and make great Gin (with Whisky an option for the future).

This Gin, their second product, was launched in Summer 2013 and was inspired by Tom Warner's Mother Adele. It is a limited edition run, available each year on a seasonal basis – in 2013 they made 2,200 bottles and sold out within the first eight weeks and so 15,000 bottles were produced for 2014!

Production

This is a true hand crafted small batch distilled Gin. The base spirit is made from barley and flavored with botanicals, including some sourced from the two farms in England and Wales. Each batch of 700 bottles, taking around 7 hours to run, is produced in their bespoke 500-liter (53 gallon) copper pot still made by Arnold Holstein from Markdorf, Germany. The still has been named “Curiosity”, following the discovery of paw prints made by a neighbor’s cat in the wet cement, when they were laying a new floor in the distillery (where the still is sited).

“Curiosity” has a 4.3-meter (14 feet) rectifying column, housing 8 bubble plates, and several other features including: a partial condenser (called a deflegmator) and a special patented catalyzer using copper (to increase the contact time for the spirit with this metal), thus improving the smoothness of the end spirit. The impact of this still is in providing a one-shot distillation technique, that uses the London Dry method, and creating a higher quality result. The distillate is rested for 16 days and is then infused with elderflowers and a little sugar, for an unspecified time before it is diluted with their own spring water to bring it down to bottling strength, with each bottle comprised of 56% of this natural water.

This pale green colored Gin is presented in a clear rectangular bottle with rounded corners and shoulders. It has a large oblong dusky lime green colored label showing images of elderflowers, with the bottom section colored white, in the shape of their distillery roof line. There is a weather vane above this (showing “W” and “E”) and on top of this in clear white text is “Warner Edwards”. Further still above this, in copper foil, is a Welsh dragon and an English lion toasting each other with a Martini glass and the tagline “United in Spirit”. All of this relates to the cross-nation friendship between the founders Tom and Sion. The “W” stands for Warner, Wales and West (Wales is in the West of Great Britain) while the “E” stands for Edwards, England and East (Harrington being towards the East of the country) – this really celebrates just how much they are “United in Spirit” – but these can also stand for the key ingredients used in making the Gin their own: Elderflower and Water. Each bottle is filled, labeled and wax sealed by hand with a cap label showing the individual batch and number. Finally there is a quirky coil of copper wire wound around the neck of the bottle.

Category

Flavored Gin - Elderflower.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

40% (80 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$ - $$$$$$. Not available in the USA but is available from Master of Malt in the UK on a seasonal basis (from Summer each year), just be prepared to add another 50% for shipping.  

Botanicals

Uses 11 botanicals including: angelica, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, elderflower, juniper berries, lemon peel, nutmeg, orange peel and pepper. The remaining botanical remains a closely held secret by the distillery.

Name

Simply put, it comes from the combined surnames of the founders Tom Warner and Sion Edwards and the key botanical flavoring.

Tasting Notes

On the nose is sweet floral elderflower plus juniper, peppery spice (cardamom and coriander) and citrus. On the palate this very smooth oily sweet spirit has elderflower plus juniper, spice, citrus (lemon & orange) and growing warmth (like ginger). On the close the juniper and spice soften with increasing citrus notes coming through in the warm lingering finish.

This Gin has all the elements of their original Harrington Gin but with the elderflower significantly increased. Many flavored Gins are technically liqueurs, with a typical syrupy sweet style, but this is not. With a 40% ABV it is firmly elderflower flavored Gin and similar to Gordon’s with a spot of Elderflower, released after this in early 2014.

This is a very easy to drink neat and sure to please people who like both sweet elderflower and smooth Gin. In a Gin and Tonic, the flavor makes for a great refreshing summer time drink (with some spicy notes) and is best with a slice of lemon or lime as garnish. This doesn’t make a good traditional Martini although it does make a sweet and floral elderflower version that may be enjoyed by some, and even encouraged by others for a different summer time version – with a lemon twist garnish! Using this in a Gimlet was highlighted to us by Aaron Knoll’s review of this spirit at the Gin is In, and while it sounded off beat, we have to agree it really works well. Another way to enjoy this Gin is with sparkling white wine, an extra special drink for warm days.

Overall, like Aaron Knoll purports, this is one of the best (if not the best) elderflower flavored Gins and is highly recommended. Warner Edwards have produced another great Gin to add to their growing stable of quality products.

Awards & Accolades

Bronze Medal, International Wine and Spirit Competition, 2014.



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