Later this month, Tom Warner and Sion Edwards will be watching the hedgerows. They need to harvest the elderflower in its first bloom of youth, before it develops the rancid characteristics of age.
Elderflower goes into a gin that they make from their own distillery in a barn on Tom’s father’s Northamptonshire farm. Gin, once associated with brass-buttoned blazers and saloon bars, has undergone a renaissance in recent years; connoisseurs can enjoy a choice of boutique gins, made with interesting botanicals. Only Warner Edwards has invested in its own still, rather than getting the spirit made by a commercial distiller (www.warneredwards.com).
It’s a splendid piece of equipment, as gleaming as an old-fashioned fire engine. But, my goodness, they’re working hard to pay off the investment.
They do everything themselves-accounts, despatch, appearing at county shows. When I saw them at The Cadogan Arms on London’s King’s Road-one of the select establishments that sell their spirit- they were surprisingly bright-eyed. They’re country boys.
Water comes from a spring in the fields. Often it has to be collected by quad bike rather than tractor, because of the medieval earthworks that surround it. Elderflower gin, incidentally, can be drunk neat. I shouldn’t have had one during Lent. I nearly said yes to another.
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