One year ago, I turned up at a converted barn in Harrington to find out more about Northamptonshire’s new gin distillery at Falls Farm.
The first, and main, drink to come from the sparkling copper still (named Curiosity) was Harrington Dry Gin and the company owners, best friends Sion Edwards and Tom Warner, were rightfully proud of their new project.
I revisited the site again last week to attend Warner Edwards’ first birthday celebration. In the last 12 months, the firm has come a long way.
Harrington Dry Gin has been taken to food events up and down the country, won silver at the World Spirit Awards, been featured on BBC’s Countryfile and attracted a gaggle of celebrity and non-celebrity supporters. Its stockists now include the prestigious name of London’s Fortnum And Mason.
To mark its first birthday, the company has now launched Harrington Sloe Gin. The sloes were picked earlier this year with the help of volunteers.
Present at the birthday event was Kettering’s Jenny Walker, who took to the hedgerows of Northamptonshire to pick sloes in return for a personalised bottle of sloe gin.
She said: “What’s better than being able to pick sloes? The Harrington Sloe Gin tastes gorgeous and it gives me such satisfaction to have been involved.”
Speaking about the sloe gin, which retails at £27 a bottle, Sion said: “It is stilled in high proof and then that comes off the still at 89 per cent, then we put the fruit into that. We monitored it and saw how it was going, then we realised it was looking pretty good. The sloes give it a nice flavour and something you can’t quite put your finger on.”
Tom and Sion are pleased with how their brainchild has developed over the last year, but have clear visions for the future, which looks likely to see the Warner Edwards brand launched in the rest of Europe.
Sion said: “It has been amazing for us this year. I remember when we had the Made in Northamptonshire meeting here and we were terribly nervous. It was the first time we had people here to do a tasting. It was amazing as we had a fantastic response. We have met so many people from around the country.
“We are sending our first lot abroad on December 15. In the first year we did two trade shows in Holland and in Belgium, so it is going to Belgium. Gin is absolutely on fire in Belgium. We are developing that market, but we are still trying to establish in the UK.
“We have a lot of people in America asking about it but America is very far away and there are a lot of rules to follow. There are a lot of places in Europe, in Italy, Spain and France, where people already show an interest in this.
“There are people at shows already looking for us now. At the beginning, no one knew about us.”
But will the company be able to keep up with demand?
Sion said: “The actual still is future proof and there is plenty of capacity for production.”
Tom said: “It’s been an amazing year. We can’t quite believe it has been a year since we first launched. We have worked like demons and have not looked back since. The local support has been fantastic, it is our bedrock.” See www.warneredwards.com