Earlier this year, inspired by my love of gin, I made a personalised English bone china mug for my gin loving friend , Christina, at Green Umbrella. Let the evening be GIN.  It seemed a good design and provoked much comment amongst fellow believers and none more so than my sister, the talented American author Barbara Claypole White. So what could be better when your sister comes to visit from North Carolina but to take her on a visit to the award-winning local gin distillery, Warner Edwards at Harrington, Northamptonshire. I am fascinated by “craft” manufacturing and I did find several striking similarities between the English bone china business and craft gin production. Warner Edwards have developed a unique brand selling a truly British product reflecting their ethos of producing the “best gin”.  I can resonate with this as I am producing a truly British premium product which has a history stretching back over the centuries. Like Warner Edwards, I am building a British brand synonymous with quality. I love the fact Warner Edwards are so passionate and focused about their gin and yes, it is totally delicious and extremely drinkable! They deserve their new found success as highly skilled craft gin makers.

The brilliant Curiosity still at Warner Edwards Distillery

Posted by Susan Rose China on Wednesday, 7 June 2017

For us the tour started in the garden of botanicals, with a much needed gin after a rather stressful start to the evening, which involved a drain cover and two burst tyres. However, my elderflower gin and tonic and Barbara’s sloe gin with ice soon revived both artist and author! The garden was relaxing and beautiful, full of all the botanicals except for the secret ingredient which helps to make their gin unique. After we had listened to a brief history of the farm we were taken to meet the star attraction of the evening, “Curiosity”. To me this was the most interesting part of the tour. This German still was the epitome of outstanding craftsmanship and engineering skill with its beaten copper still and hand riveted joints. I watched the elderflowers turning round and round in the still, all handpicked earlier in the day from nearby hedgerows. It was vaguely reminiscent of watching the slip in the Stoke factories, being mixed in the giant vats before being poured into the moulds to make the china. Curiosity’s giant chimney with its separate chambers towered up into the ceiling like a cathedral spire. Graded temperature control is very important to the smoothness of the end product in gin making,  just like firing china!

I learnt so much about the making and the history of gin. I never realised London gin was a process. Rather naively I had believed it was because most 18th century gin had originated from London! A bit like English bone china whose recipe originated from the Bow Pottery which was next to an East End abattoir. The recipe was then refined or perhaps some might say “distilled” by Josiah Spode to the recipe it is today.

For those who were not driving, we tasted 4 gins which were “slipping down quite nicely”. I have to admit to being a committed fan of all of them –  rhubarb, elderflower, London and sloe. The London is still my favourite. I was very pleased to hear Warner Edwards say gin might taste equally good in a china mug.

Two new gins have been developed – the honey bee and botanical garden gin. I’m looking forward to tasting these and feel quite sad I didn’t see their team making gin at Chelsea with their smaller still “Satisfaction”. It’s so important to engage with people about your business and give it a good “shout out”. After all good publicity clearly works because we’re all talking about this great local business. To quote an expression from my very much loved and missed father in law, Tom, who gave me my first ever proper gin and tonic “Here’s steam in all your boilers” and from this china maker to all you gin lovers do go to the Warner Edwards tour and enjoy drinking gin on National Gin Day.