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Review

Warner Edwards
Harrington Sloe 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 third product, was launched on their 1st Anniversary in December 2013.

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 sloeberries and a little sugar - for an unspecified time (we guess around 6 weeks) - 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 rusty-red colored Gin is presented in a clear rectangular bottle with rounded corners and shoulders. It has a large oblong pinky red colored label showing images of blackthorn with sloeberries, 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 - Sloeberry.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

30% (60 Proof).

Price Range

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

Botanicals

Uses 12 botanicals including: angelica, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, elderflower, juniper berries, lemon peel, nutmeg, orange peel, pepper and sloeberries. The remaining botanical remains a closely held secret by the distillery.

The sloeberries are hand picked from the surrounding countryside by willing volunteers. In 2014 they needed 3.5 tonnes of sloeberries and volunteers were rewarded with a product discount voucher for 5 Kg, a bottle of Sloe Gin for 10kg or a special name printed bottle of Sloe Gin for 15Kg of sloeberries.

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 a clear plummy red fruit (sloe) aroma. On the palate is fruity sloe (almost cherry-like) plus a lightly sharp tart taste with spice and marzipan (almond) notes. On the close the dry fruity sloe flavor continues with a warming spice finish. A relatively complex and well-balanced Sloe Gin

This is a nicely dry (i.e. not too sweet) sloe Gin, making an excellent winter warmer to sip neat (the spice notes work extremely well here). It has a higher than average ABV and this seems to help keep it’s presence in longer mixed drinks with tonic water, soda water, sparkling wine etc. This is perhaps the best sloe Gin we have tried for those cool refreshing summer time drinks like a Sloe Fizz.

Overall, an excellent all rounder and should be the prime choice for everyone’s bar (both professional and domestic ones). Very highly recommended, if you have never had a natural sloe Gin before (as opposed to the large scale commercial artificial tasting ones), this is the one to try – you will not be disappointed. A triumph displaying a continuing Midas touch, can these gentlemen at Warner Edwards do no wrong?

Awards & Accolades

Unknown.



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