I often forget about Lazy Lounge due to its low profile tucked off Wellington Street. However as I was reminded this week it is one of Leeds’ most exciting independent bars due to the wide range artisan wines, beers and gins on offer. In fact at last count the gin selection was in the 100s! If you want something unique and tasty then this is the place to come. What’s more, despite being in the ground floor of a new build block of flats it actually has tons of character and atmosphere.
Anyway what brought us here on a muggy Thursday evening was a gin club dedicated to my favourite gin in the whole wide world – Warner Edwards. For those not in the know, Warner Edwards is one of the original gang who started the artisan gin movement about 2-3 years ago – other aficionados include Sipsmiths, William Chase and Edinburgh gin. Their aim – to make a premium, tasty gin in small batches. What I love about Warner Edwards is its oily, savoury-sweet quality that means you can sip it neat over ice!
Tom Warner gave us a talk about the history of gin. What I hadn’t realised was the different gin definitions. If the product is simply ‘gin’ then this is the lowest quality where spirit is simply macerated with botanicals. ‘Distilled gin’ is the next level, which as you’ve guessed, is where the spirit is distilled with botanicals. The best quality product is ‘London Dry Gin’ which is spirit that has been distilled to a high ABV with botanicals. Warner Edwards distil their gin to around 85% which is the highest known. This is distilled with a range of botanicals including their locally foraged elderflower, and then brought down to a drinkable 44% ABV by diluting it with spring water from their own farm. This all leads to a very smooth and quaffable product which has since won countless international awards.
What I was impressed by was the lengths the duo went to creating a top notch product. Years of research and experimentation lead to the creation of their range of tasty gins. It just goes to show, put the work in and you will reap the rewards. We got to try three of their gins, including the flagship Harrington Dry (my favourite). Their elderflower gin is a seasonal product whereby more local elderflower is added to the stills when the spirit is at 85% and at ultimate solvency to suck up all that fragrant flavour. The rhubarb gin is perhaps the most intriguing. After much experimentation the lads found that the best way of getting rhubarb flavour into the gin was by pressing raw rhubarb through a cider press and diluting the spirit with the resulting juice. The end result is deep and fruity without being cloyingly sweet, which is often a danger with liqueurs.
Lazy Lounge looked after us very well. Our £20 ticket included our gin lecture and lots of Warner Edwards tasters. A bountiful platter of good quality cheeses, meats and breads was brought out to soak up all the gin, my favourites being the blue cheese and slices of chorizo. They also tried their hand at putting Warner Edwards into some classic cocktails. The Harrington Dry made it into a lemony White Lady, whilst the rhubarb gin made it into a rhubarb sour which was lethally strong! These were a nice touch but if I’m honest I prefer to drink the gin unadulterated given that so much effort has been put into making such a stunning product. However we enjoyed talking to the owner who is very passionate about all things booze! He gave us a snifter of his favourite gin – ala Madame – which is distilled with tons of spices. It was firey with ginger and cinnamon and if I’m honest reminded me of the Aftershock of my student days!!
For more information on Warner Edwards check out – www.warneredwards.com. They do tours at their beautiful Northampton farm so that’s something I’ll certainly be looking into. The gins can be bought from their website and also from Latitude in Leeds City Centre.