Warner’s Lemon Balm gin is distilled within an hour of the lemon balm being picked on Falls Farm! You can’t get much more fresh than that!
Price: ~ £36
Dietary Info: Not suitable for vegans
It’s difficult to find a gin drinker who hasn’t heard of Warner’s and their rainbow of bottles and expressions, but I must confess they’re not a brand I’m much more familiar with than that! So, as this is my first time reviewing one of their gins, let’s rectify that shall we?
In 2012, friends Tom Warner and Sion Edwards Founded ‘Warner Edwards’ and began making gin. Fast forward to 2016 and Sion decided to leave the company, joining Langley distillery, leaving Warner Edwards without an Edwards. Thus the name was dropped. Over the years, the brand has gone from strength to strength, even featuring in the Sunday Times ‘Fast Track 100’ for 2018.
In 2021 their mission is a simple one: to save the world from mediocre gin. Warner’s produce a range of award-wining gins distilled at their 200-year-old converted barn in the village of Harrington, Northamptonshire. They overhauled the family farm in order to grow and source as many of their ingredients as possible, and in a sustainable way as they can with the commitment to use responsible processes that give back more than they take and inspiring positive change in both people and the planet.
The brand takes that commitment seriously in, stating that everything they do is transparent and ethical (and though the finer details aren’t available on their website, I very much get the impression they would be happy to provide it if you ask!). What they don’t take too seriously though is themselves, which in this day is a bit of a breath of fresh air! The website is full of no-nonsense language, and a real down-to-earth feel. They even beg readers to call BS if they think they smell it!
They’re following up on that passion though, first by having joined ‘1% For The Planet’, a network that connects members with high-impact nonprofit partners that align with their values and add to their brand story. The idea being that because companies profit from the resources they take from the earth, they should protect those resources. The second thing is that they are working towards official status as a B Corp. These are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.
All in all, a pretty great sounding brand and in many ways right up my street! So… what’s the gin like?
The bottle is medium height and round, with a slight tapering in at the bottom and a long, wax coated neck and stopper (though they are transitioning away from wax). This expression is a gorgeous, rich green that immediately evokes feelings of fresh herbs that is almost enough to get the taste buds tingling on its own. Front and centre, the textured Warner’s label sits in a triangular inlay with their emblem (the English lion and Welsh dragon) in gold. Beneath that is the label with the expression name and a very brief description, along with the volume and ABV. Most of the rest of the bottle is a glorious screen print illustration of Falls Farm, where it all comes from…
On the back is a printed label providing a blurb about the gin as well as the usual info. Around the base are embossed elements, one stating that the gin is handmade in small batches, as well as the emblem on the back. Around the shoulder is another embossed message: ‘Crafted with nature on Falls Farm’. The tamper label over the stopper and down the neck provides information on when the batch was harvested, the name of the distiller (Simon in my case), Tom Warner’s signature, and another little blurb about the distillery. All in all it’s an eye catching bottle where attention to detail is key. I’m a big fan and can only imagine how great a row of different colours would look together!
Fear not gin fans, though this may have the air of a ‘flavoured gin’ (or at least single-botanical-heavy expression) one whiff will cast all doubts aside. Juniper very much reigns here, and is in no fear of revolution. It’s bold, fresh, and full of zesty notes. This gin may be full of lemons balm, verbena, and thyme, but it’s the lemon part (and definitely grapefruit too) that stands out for me. I get a slight bite at the end, one of my favourite elements of pink peppercorn (as I find it also has a citrus edge to it), and a pleasant haziness from the lavender, which may possibly also be from the bee pollen. Overall it’s a very classic, juniper dominant, fresh citrus aroma that is positively mouthwatering.
Neat, this gin bursts with flavour and I’d go so far as to say it’s been a while since I reviewed a gin with this much juniper to it! It’s lovely and dry, but with loads of body, so much so that I can smell the juniper as I taste it. Beyond that I get plenty of aromatic citrus, full-bodied, tangy and green. The herbal and citrus elements intertwine nicely, providing a dry, sharp, but quite warming taste with hints of floral notes and a little kick at the end. It most definitely leaves a tingle on the tongue, and is a potent liquid when drunk neat! I get a slight burn from it, but I put that down to the sheer amount of flavour evident as anything else!
Water changes the gin quite a lot, and for me sadly not really for the better. I find that a lot of the brighter notes are muted while the dry juniper is intensified, which takes it further towards the bitter end of the spectrum for my tastes. That said other things do come forward. The liquorice is definitely present, which makes a lovely addition, and I find the herbal elements now shine a little more brightly. It’s quite different, less flavoursome in some ways but still full of flavour. Definitely more herbal, and still bunches of juniper.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Franklin & Sons Indian Tonic with a lemon wheel to garnish). The result is, after adding a little extra splash of gin, absolutely wonderful. There’s plenty of flavour here, loads of juniper mingling beautifully with the tonic, and plenty of rich herbal citrus to back it up. It’s refreshing, dry, a little tart, but somehow also a little warming. What’s interesting is that there are some nice sweet elements floating around the edges, coming through with a slightly candied lemon taste, with the lavender just peeking through to lift things a little. It’s a really refreshing G&T.
Warner’s Lemon Balm gin is, in short, great. The name is really a way of telling you where the focus goes beyond juniper, rather than a statement that ‘this is what this tastes of’ which may be what makes some think twice before picking up a bottle. For my tastes, it’s a very dry, very juniper present, and citrus forward classic well deserving of a spot on any gin fan’s shelf. Bursting with flavour and with a profile that on the surface appears relatively simple (juniper and citrus) it has plenty more to offer and depth enough for plenty of exploration.
Add half a feather if you love strong, dry gin flavours
Warner’s Lemon Balm gin is available online and in some shops
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and paid for by the author, unless otherwise stated.