The Castle celebrates local distillers at first Gin Festival

The Castle celebrates local distillers at first Gin Festival

The Castle at Edgehill, Gin Festival, Pinnock Distillery

LOCAL producers will be celebrated at the first Gin Festival hosted by The Castle at Edgehill in Oxfordshire, on July 2nd.

The brand new event, which brings together gin brands from across the county, will include plenty of G&Ts to sample as well as live music and food in the gardens, which overlook the historic Edgehill battlefields.

There will also be the opportunity to join guided tours of The Castle’s new micro-distillery and gin school, run by Pinnock Distillery, which opened in the tower earlier this year. It marked an expansion for Kineton’s Dan Beckett whose collaboration with The Castle at Edgehill also celebrates the brands’ shared historical connections.

The Castle sits at a location overlooking the spot where Charles 1st raised the standard at the Battle of Edgehill in 1642 – the first major battle in the English Civil War between the Royalist forces and the Parliamentarian Army commanded by the Earl of Essex. King Charles was the first ruler to tax alcohol in the 1630s when many people took to distilling in their kitchens.

The Castle at Edgehill, Gin Festival, Pinnock Distillery

The Castle at Edgehill, Gin Festival, Pinnock Distillery
Dan Beckett of Pinnock Distillery at the Castle Gin School.

As well as Pinnock, the range of gins available on the day includes: Warwickshire Gin Company and Newbold Spirit, both in Leamington and Rugby Distillery.

Dan Beckett said: “It’s been a busy start for the gin school here at The Castle so we wanted to extend our celebration of this fabulous drink by inviting other producers to join us to showcase their brands. It is set to be a great event and we hope to see as many people there as possible, especially if the weather’s kind to us.”

Distilled using a small batch method and traditional copper pot, Warwickshire Gin Company celebrates the county with its five exclusive recipes: Leamington on Parade, Kingmaker, Peeping Tom, Pelota and The Philosophers Daughter.

Director Dave Blick said: “It’s great being able to get out to events, giving tasters and talking about our exciting dry gin flavour profiles. It’s been a tough few years for everyone so this is very exciting!”

Local history is also at the heart of Rugby Distillery, with its range of gins themed around the story of the town and its famous game, including Wasps Gin, distilled exclusively for the Coventry-based Wasps team.

Richard Wilson, who runs Rugby Distillery with his sister Emma, said: “We’re thrilled to be involved at the Gin Festival at The Castle at Edgehill. To have our gins featured alongside some of the great gins from our area at such a great venue that is offering a brilliant gin school is a real highlight.”

The ethos behind Ian and Victoria Black’s award-winning Newbold Spirit is a collection of small-batch gins – and rums – that reflect the flavours they wanted to drink themselves.

Victoria said: “Warwickshire has an amazing artisan food and drink culture which will be highlighted by Dan and his team at the festival. It’s going to be great fun – all we need now is a bit of sunshine!”
Tickets, which are £20pp, include a G&T on arrival and food token as well as a free gin balloon glass to take home.

The Castle at Edgehill, Gin Festival, Pinnock Distillery
Warwickshire Gin Company Director Dave Blick.

The venue is one of five under the ownership of The Free Spirit Pub Company founded by Mark Higgs.

Mark said: “Here at The Castle we are looking forward to launching our first Gin Festival to celebrate the launch of our nano distillery and Gin school. We have handpicked a small selection of local artisan producers, selected some great live music and of course some delicious food.

“It’s the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the gardens with a beautiful view, great gins, entertainment and great company.”

The Castle at Edgehill, Gin Festival, Pinnock Distillery
Brother and sister owners of Rugby Distillery Richard Wilson and Emma Riddell.

Tickets to the event, which runs from 2-9pm, are available through Eventbrite here

For more information about The Castle and The Gin School visit here

The Castle at Edgehill, Gin Festival, Pinnock Distillery
Newbold Spirit owners Ian and Victoria Black and their daughters

Further Information about The Castle Gin School:

Visitors to The Castle can choose from a one-hour Pinnock Gin Taster Session or three-hour Gin School (for parties of up to 14 people) in which they’ll learn about the history and provenance of the product and location, before being guided by Dan through the gin-making process using a range of botanicals. As well as enjoying plenty of Gin samples along the way, they will get to take home a 70cl bottle of their own unique recipe, which can also be reordered at the distillery on a later date.

Former site of Civil War now sought-after oasis of harmony

Former site of Civil War now sought-after oasis of harmony

The Castle at Edgehill,gin school, Pinnock Distillery, review

HISTORY is integral to the story of the tiny village of Edgehill in Warwickshire, the scene of the bloodiest battle in The English Civil War.

Today, the din of muskets and cannons are, thankfully, confined to those history books and the battlefields instead offer idyllic views from one of the most impressive vantage points in the country, The Castle pub.

Perched on the summit overlooking the infamous battlefields, The Castle at Edgehill is also renowned for its exceptional hospitality. With award-winning food, four-star accommodation and now, a brand new gin school, it was time to see for myself what was putting Edgehill back on the map four centuries later.

The Castle at Edgehill,gin school, Pinnock Distillery, review
The Cromwell Suite


There is an abundance of character and opulence on display in each of the Castle’s five uniquely decorated boutique rooms.

My friends and I were able to congregate for a proper girlie catch up in the grandeur of The Cromwell Suite, offering a huge space in which to spread out, set across the entire first floor, with connecting lounge and double bedroom, plus en suite.

Perfect for small groups, this is their biggest room which can more than comfortably sleep up to four people by turning down the bed settee.

The Castle at Edgehill,gin school, Pinnock Distillery, review
The Cromwell Suite double bedroom

Two of our party stayed one floor up in the tower’s Prince Rupert room, highlights of which are the four-poster bed (a better choice for romantic weekends!) and its breathtakingly stunning vista. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve woken up to a view like this one.

Both offered comfort and luxury in equal measure – and were well equipped with SMART TVs and a useful mini fridge. The quirky décor in Cromwell proved a fun talking point.

It would be remiss not to mention the tight spiral staircase guests have to negotiate to reach their quarters however, unless staying in the ground-floor Verney room.

The Castle at Edgehill,gin school, Pinnock Distillery, review
The Prince Rupert room

But it’s important to remember, most of the accommodation is within a tower. Access is something which should be carefully considered by the less able-bodied when selecting their room choice here. Fear not though as help is at hand from friendly staff so you won’t be left to hoist your bags aloft up unaided. Two of our group had some mobility issues and managed okay.

For those willing to put in the work, I refer you back to the picture-perfect views from Prince Rupert’s windows. Aspects like that don’t come from ground level! (And not bad for your daily step count either!)

The Castle at Edgehill,gin school, Pinnock Distillery, review
Dining with a view!


The team in the Castle kitchen pride themselves on going that extra mile when it comes to culinary creativity and excellence – a fact born out by their many awards and strong local reputation for supreme pub fare.

The chef’s pledge to produce a full seasonal menu using ingredients sourced within a 30-mile radius showcases some of the best local suppliers – and if the impressive plates of food served to us are anything to go by, long may that continue!

The post-gin school treat became probably, the most memorable chapter of our stay at The Castle. We devoured our Starters of Seared Scallops (with Houmous, Black Pudding Bon Bon); Asparagus (& Crispy Hen’s Egg & Hollandaise Sauce); Chef’ Soup (with Artisan Bread) and Goats Cheese (with Mango Curd, Toasted Brioche & English Micro Herb Salad) followed by, in my case, simply the most exquisite Blade of Beef (& Creamy Mash & Braised Red Cabbage), literally melting in on the tongue.

The Castle at Edgehill,gin school, Pinnock Distillery, review
My Asparagus and Crispy Hen’s Egg starter
Blade of Beef

In fact, all of the mains – including 6oz Beef Fillet (Parmesan Gnocchi & Spring Greens) and Asparagus, Pea & Mint Risotto and Crayfish, Crab and Lobster Bisque Linguine all won very high praise all around the table for Head Chef Pawel Neumann and his kitchen crew.

We’d been determined to leave room for desserts (if the rest was anything to go by we didn’t want to miss out!), and the Vanilla Panna Cotta (with Warm Raspberry Compote); Vegan Chocolate Brownie (& Vanilla Ice Cream) and Sticky Toffee Pudding (with Vanilla Ice Cream) left us feeling full to the brim – but justified in our decision.

My friend’s British Cheeseboard selection came complete with more ample ingredients than many I’ve seen in my time. (My husband is a cheese lover so I’ve seen a few!)

For those lucky enough to be staying the night, there’s also a small, but delicious, breakfast menu to refuel you for the next day of exploring ahead.

The only aspect which in any way enhanced our dining experience brings us back to the views. I never tired of enjoying these.

Gin School

One of the main reasons for our stay was so, like many, we could take full advantage of The Castle’s fabulous new gin school, situated in the highest point of the tower. (Yes, I’m going to bang on about those views again!)

I defy anyone to show me somewhere else in the country where you can distil your own gin recipe whilst looking out across five (yes five!) counties. The Castle tower, also known as the ‘Radway’ or ‘Round tower’, was intended to replicate Guy’s tower at nearby Warwick Castle and, after sitting derelict for 40 years, it is now home to Pinnock Distillery founded by Dan Beckett.

The Castle at Edgehill, Pinnock Gin, review

I suppose you could say Dan is proud to have realised the ‘height’ of his ambitions a few months ago by also opening the gin school in this truly unique (an oft overused word but NOT in this case) premises.

It marks a collaboration for Dan and Castle owner Mark Higgs- and, from what I’ve experienced, it’s a partnership of pure genius. The Ultimate Gin Experience package that we enjoyed includes gin school, dinner, overnight stay and breakfast. After all, who wants to be the designated driver for this one? Especially when I tell you what the gin school entails. . .

The Castle at Edgehill, Pinnock Gin, review

Dan comes across as extremely passionate, knowledgeable and affable in his approach to his classes. After explaining the provenance of his products and their historical connections to The Castle (no spoiler alerts here!), we are guided through his three gins, enjoying samples along the way. Well, it would be rude not to!

The Castle at Edgehill, Pinnock Gin, review

Then, after a short toilet and snack break (nibbles are also laid on) Dan offered helpful advice on flavour infusions and, before we knew it, it was time to pair up and create our own unique gins armed with our recipe of botanicals and a small copper still. Plus there was plenty more gin flowing to help inspire us along the way. (Do watch those spiral stairs on your way back down from the top of the tower though!)

Three hours goes by in a flash but it’s with a sense of pride that, with a 70cl bottle of our gin concoctions in hand (plus a few extra purchases) we wend our way back downstairs to prepare for dinner. (By this time we were definitely ready to line our stomachs!) What a hugely satisfying way to spend a Friday (or Saturday) afternoon with friends.

Shorter one-hour Gin Tasting sessions are also available at a lower price point.


All in all, our Castle experience could not be faulted, with comfort, character and attentive service from General Manager Dariusz Remiz and his team throughout.

While not a rambler myself, this is also the perfect base from which to explore miles of beautiful walks – and some of the rooms are also dog friendly.

It would be only too easy to let the views do all the talking here, but The Castle has found a way to make establish its position as a must-visit destination pub in its own right.

The Castle may sit in a former site of conflict – but there’s nothing you’ll find here anymore that’s remotely disagreeable!

Visit: and

Visit Pinnock Distillery at: Pinnock Gin | Pinnock Distillery | Kineton, Warwickshire

The Castle at Edgehill, Pinnock Gin, review
Historic battlefield is now a view to die for from the bedroom windows!


The Battle of Edge Hill was fought on Sunday, 23rd October 1642 and was the first major battle in the English Civil War between the Royalist forces of King Charles I and the Parliamentarian Army commanded by the Earl of Essex.

The King’s army had to descend from the edge of the escarpment if they wished to engage the Parliamentarians in battle, because the escarpment was far too steep for Essex to consider an attack against the Royalist army while it was on the edge. At the time of the battle, there were far fewer trees. The battle was inconclusive, with both sides claiming victory. It would take several more years and many more battles before the Parliamentarians won the war.

The Castle first became a pub in 1822, when it was sold by Sanderson Miller and acquired by the Hook Norton Brewery in 1922, with Mark Higgs, the current tenant, taking over the lease in 2013.

Now, the venue is one of five in the Midlands under the ownership of The Free Spirit Pub Company founded by Mark Higgs.

The others are: The Bell at Ladbroke

The Seven Stars at Marsh Baldon

The Sun Inn, Hook Norton

The Red Lion, Hellidon

Warwick gin bar’s triple celebration in aid of local children’s charity

Warwick gin bar’s triple celebration in aid of local children’s charity

Molly Ollys, That Gin & Cocktail Bar, Platinum Jubilee, Warwick
Steve Bazell and Rachel Ollerenshaw with the Royal Jubilee Cocktail.

A Warwick business is flying the flag for Her Majesty as well as supporting a local charity with the launch of its limited-edition cocktail this week.

The Royal Jubilee Cocktail is being served at That Gin & Cocktail Bar from Friday (World Cocktail Day) until June 5th as part of Jubilee celebrations in the town.

Half the proceeds from the sales of the royal drink, which is also in recognition of the That Gin Company’s first anniversary in Swan Street, will benefit local children’s charity Molly Ollys.

Steve said: “We have decided to have a triple celebration marking World Cocktail Day (13th May) our first birthday (May 17th) and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations while giving support to a fantastic local charity at the same time.

“We are delighted to be donating 50% of the profits on all sales of the limited edition cocktail to Molly Ollys who have offices across the road from That Gin Company in Warwick.

“We understand that this year the charity is marking a milestone of its own – its tenth anniversary of providing extremely important support to children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families – so we are incredibly proud to be able to support such a worthwhile cause.”

Steve is looking forward to offering a recreation of The Royal Jubilee Cocktail recipe – comprising calvados, orange liqueur and fresh lemon juice to his customers, from Friday.

That Gin & Cocktail Bar can make more than 100 made to order flavour infusions on site, with something for every palate, from the traditional juniper and floral gins through to fruity offerings such as Pineapple, Watermelon, Passionfruit and Sicilian Orange and, for spice lovers, Pink Pepper, Black Pepper and Cardamon or Jalapeno gin. Those with a sweet tooth can even choose from a desserts range, including Cherry Bakewell, Black Forest Gateau and Biscoff.

As well as gin, visitors can select from a menu of cocktails, wines, spirits and prosecco. And there’s the option of bottling your new found favourite flavoured gin to take home.

Steve added: “In what has been a very challenging couple of years for the whole country it is nice to have some good reasons to celebrate. People can also enter a raffle to win a bottle from the first batch of our new gin with the raffle money going to Molly Ollys. Tickets can be purchased at the bar with the draw taking place week commencing 6th June so we hope to see many of you down here to enjoy yourself at That Gin Company whilst giving to a great charity.”

Molly Ollys, That Gin & Cocktail Bar, Platinum Jubilee, Warwick

Molly Ollys was established in 2011 following the death of Rachel and Tim Ollerenshaw’s eight-year-old daughter Molly from a rare kidney cancer. The charity works to support children with terminal or life-limiting illnesses and their families and help with their emotional wellbeing as well as grant wishes and donate therapeutic toys and books to both children directly and to hospitals throughout the UK.

Their mascot is a therapeutic toy lion called Olly The Brave who has his own Hickman line and a detachable mane which helps to explain and normalise the effects of chemotherapy.

Throughout the 10 years the charity has been running, it has:-

  • granted more than 2,500 wishes
  • supported more than 16,000 children
  • distributed more than 13,000 Olly The Brave books to more than 70 hospitals
  • raised more than £3 million

Between 2017 and 2020, the charity funded Birmingham’s first paediatric palliative consultant for the region, a position which has now become permanent and is currently funded through the NHS.

The charity also works alongside the NHS to support projects within the hospitals and the community. One key project was the creation and refurbishment of Magnolia House at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, a safe and non-clinical space where medical teams and families can have important discussions.

Rachel Ollerenshaw said: “We love it when companies and individuals come up with new ways to fundraise and help raise awareness and this is a great idea from Steve and the team at That Gin Company especially as the Jubilee cocktail goes down very well. Thank you to Steve for his support and helping to raise awareness.

“There are lots of ways that people can help and get involved throughout the Jubilee celebrations so we’d love to hear from you. “

Further information about Molly Olly’s Wishes or how to donate can be found at here


Thank you for the music Birmingham Hippodrome!

Thank you for the music Birmingham Hippodrome!

The cast of MAMMA MIA! Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

MAMMA Mia – here we go again. . . and again and again as far as I’m concerned!

Full disclosure – this is not my first visit to the world’s most famous fictional Greek taverna, so there were no surprises in store. But it was the first outside of the West End – and there were VERY high standards to maintain!

There’s good reason the smash hit musical marks its 23rd year in the UK, in fact 65 million of them – the number of people who have seen the show in more than 450 cities worldwide.

Mamma Mia, Birmingham Hippodrome, ABBA
James Willoughby Moore (Peppa), Helen Anker (Tanya) and the cast of MAMMA MIA! Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

And for the next two weeks its Birmingham’s turn to delight audiences with producer Judy Craymer’s global phenomenon – a sunny, funny tale of a mother and daughter and three possible dads unfolding on a Greek island idyll.

Craymer’s MAMMA MIA! The Movie, also became the highest grossing live action musical film of all time upon its release in 2008 and MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN, opened in July 2018 and is the most successful live musical movie sequel of all time. How could it possible fail? (Despite Piece Brosnan’s vocal attempts to kill it!)

Helen Anker (Tanya), Sara Poyzer (Donna), Nicky Swift (Rosie) in MAMMA MIA! Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

As a die-hard fan of ABBA’s music, any show that weaves its story around their back catalogue was not going to disappoint. But it’s important to say that this is so much more than a jukebox musical. Lashings of care have gone into the storyline and Mamma Mia stands on its own two feet as musical theatre of the highest calibre.

And, sometimes unusually for live theatre, touring versions away from the glitz of the West End, can lose a bit of their gloss. Not so here. This glitterball of a show shone bright from curtain up to lights down, skipping along, from one huge ABBA hit to the next with boundless energy.

It proves the perfect platform for Jena Pandya and Sara Poyzer, whose powerhouse performances as mother and daughter Sophie and Donna Sheridan are central to this show’s success. But they are more than ably supported by an ensemble of talented co-stars, including great comic performances by Helen Anker and Nicky Swift as Donna’s old friends Tanya and Rosie.

Mariella Mazzilli (Lisa), Jena Pandya (Sophie), Jasmine Shen (Ali) in MAMMA MIA! Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

Fans of ABBA – or even just those affectionately familiar with their songs – will love every toe-tapping minute of this breathtaking rollercoaster ride through some of the iconic band’s MANY hits. It’s unashamedly saccharine and never sets out to be anything other than a feelgood cheese fest – but that’s exactly what last night’s sell-out audience demanded.

If you’re looking for Sondheim, stay away.

Mamma Mia is an effervescent celebration that had each and every one of us on our feet for the rousing finale. (It’s a physical impossibility to stay seated for Dancing Queen!)

Mamma Mia, Birmingham Hippodrome, ABBA
Toby MIles (Sky) and the cast of MAMMA MIA! Photo: Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

So grab your lycra and platform boots and embrace your inner sequined soul, for this stunning romp of a show. I’ve paid to go and see it again next week!

Thank you for the Music – again!

It plays at The Birmingham Hippodrome until Saturday, May 14th with limited tickets available at:

Final days to enter second Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards

Final days to enter second Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards

Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards, Paul Foster, Glynn Purnell,
Foodies organiser Jonathan Smith of Talk Business UK at last year’s inaugural event

TIME is running out to enter The Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards, which returns to celebrate the best of the region’s food and drink scene – with the backing of two celebrity Michelin Star chefs.

The Awards, in partnership with Visit Coventry and Visit Warwickshire, will culminate in a ceremony at The Box at Fargo Village, Coventry in June.

Entrants will be showcasing their talents to judges, including some of the top names in the industry, including chef Paul Foster who runs Salt, in Stratford-upon-Avon and the returning ‘Yummy Brummie’ Glynn Purnell who this year opened The Mount in Henley-on-Arden.

Purnell, who has trained with Gordon Ramsay, Gary Rhodes and Claude Bosi, is also the owner of two restaurants in Birmingham, one of which was awarded a Michelin Star in 2009 and is a regular on TV’s Saturday Kitchen.

Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards, Paul Foster, Glynn Purnell,
Paul Foster

Paul Foster’s successful career has so far earned him a Michelin star, three AA rosettes, a place in the top 50 UK restaurants in The Good Food Guide and has been awarded Observer Food Monthly ‘Young Chef of the Year’ and The Good Food Guide ‘Best Up and Coming Chef’ award.

Both chefs will be among those deciding on winners in several categories that focus on quality, service and innovation with an emphasis on farm to fork, including best artisan food and drink producers, farm shop, independent food and drink retailer, newcomer, street food trader and chef or cook of the year.

Paul Foster said: “We are very fortunate in Warwickshire to have a thriving food scene backed up by incredible suppliers, the foodie awards are a great way to celebrate what’s great about our area.”

New categories this year will also recognise Foodie Start-up, Fine Dining Restaurant and Fine Dining Chef of the Year as well as the International Taste Award.

The project brings together the creative minds behind Talk Business UK, Coventry BID and Visit Coventry, to champion the hospitality industry across the region.

Foodie Awards Founder Jonathan Smith, of Talk Business UK, said: “With just two weeks to go before entries into this year’s Foodie Awards for Coventry and Warwickshire close, we are thrilled to have the support of local food hero and Michelin Star chef Paul Foster of Salt in Stratford-upon-Avon, who has agreed to be a judge for the Fine Dining Chef of the Year category, which will take place at the Cookery School at The Farm in Stratford.

“We have been inspired by the entries we have received so far into all of the award categories and look forward to having them all assessed and the finalists chosen for the next stage and the Awards presentation event.

“The Foodie Awards shine a spotlight on the Food and Drink sector and give recognition to all those who work so hard across this sector to give us all wonderful eating and drinking experiences.”

Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards, Paul Foster, Glynn Purnell,

The Foodie Awards will once again be raising money for The Trussell Trust network of eight food banks in Coventry and Warwickshire.

All finalists will be invited to a Finalists’ Night on June 6th at a venue to be announced.

The winners of the Fine Dining and Casual Dining categories will be decided at exclusive cook-off events in June. Paul Foster and Glynn Purnell will also be joined by BBC’s Junior Bake Off judge Rav Gill to judge the Best Casual Dining Chef during a live cook-off on the demo stage at Pub In The Park event on the weekend of June 11/12th

Meanwhile, Fine Dining Chef of the Year will be decided at a cook-off at The Farm Cookery School on June 7th.

Entries close for nominations in all categories on May 15th but any businesses interested in becoming sponsors are still invited to get in touch via:

For further information and to enter, visit here

Categories are:

  • Farm Shop
  • Artisan Drink Producer
  • Artisan Food Producer
  • Independent Food/Drink Retailer
  • Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year
  • Fine Dining Chef of the Year
  • Best Casual Dining Establishment
  • Best Casual Dining Chef
  • Pub or Bar of the Year
  • Employee of the Year
  • Best Food/Drink Experience
  • Young Foodie of the Year
  • Food Hero/Community Award
  • Foodie Start-up (Business started in the last 12 months)
  • International Taste Award
  • Street Food Trader of the Year
  • Café/Coffee Shop of the Year
  • Coventry BID Award (exclusive to Coventry) – Sponsored by Coventry BID