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

Accommodation

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!

Restaurant

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.

Summary

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: https://castleatedgehill.co.uk/ and https://castleatedgehill.co.uk/gin-school

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!

Background

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 https://bellinnatladbroke.co.uk/

The Seven Stars at Marsh Baldon https://sevenstarsatmarshbaldon.co.uk/

The Sun Inn, Hook Norton https://thesuninn-hooknorton.co.uk/

The Red Lion, Hellidon https://redlionathellidon.co.uk/

Pubs serve up some eggs-traordinary fun for Easter weekend

Pubs serve up some eggs-traordinary fun for Easter weekend

EASTER excitement is descending on two Warwickshire pubs where there will be some eggs-tra tasty surprises for younger guests.

On Saturday, April 16th eagle-eyed visitors to The Bell Inn in Ladbroke and The Castle at Edgehill can earn themselves a chocolatey treat by taking part in the pub’s first Easter Egg Hunt.

As part of the exclusive free event, between 3-5pm, children will be invited to colour in an activity sheet as they spot a host of painted wooden eggs hidden around the premises.

Easter egg hunt, The Castle at Edgehill, The Bell at Ladbroke, Freespirit Pubs
The Bell Inn, Ladbroke

There will also be the opportunity to take up the challenge of designing their own unique egg creation, the overall winners of which will be announced on Easter Monday and will receive a Cadbury’s Easter egg.

On Easter Sunday, April 17th, Thom Kirkpatrick will take the spotlight at The Bell with a live music set in the pub garden. Street food will be available to purchase from the Freespirit Food Truck between 6-8.30pm.

The Bell reopened as a steakhouse a few weeks ago following a takeover by the Freespirit Pub Company, owned by Mark Higgs.

The Bell Inn is currently open Wednesday to Sunday, serving food 12-2.30pm and 6-8.45pm and 12-4pm on Sundays.

Visit: https://bellinnatladbroke.co.uk/ for further information.

Easter egg hunt, The Castle at Edgehill, The Bell at Ladbroke, Freespirit Pubs
The Castle at Edgehill

As well as boasting an award-winning restaurant and four-star accommodation, The 17th-century Castle at Edgehill is also home to the new Pinnock Gin micro-distillery and Castle Gin School.

The Castle restaurant is currently open Monday-Friday 12-2.30pm and 6-8.30pm; Saturday 12-8.30pm and Sunday 12-4pm. Afternoon Tea is also available, by pre-order only, Monday-Friday between 3-5pm.

Visit: www.castleatedgehill.co.uk

Other venues under the Free Spirit Pub ownership are: The Sun Inn, Hook Norton; The Seven Stars. Marsh Baldon and The Red Lion at Hellidon.