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Digital Subscriptions > delicious. Magazine > April 2016 > “Mother Nature is our business partner”

“Mother Nature is our business partner”

What happens when a chef and a landowner are in cahoots with a top mixologist and a talented distiller? They get creative and make a drink that’s quite special, that’s what. Julie Sheppard meets the guys behind the new Hepple gin, and Valentine Warner provides clever recipes to accompany a glass of the good stuff


The rugged Northumberland moors.

Even if you know nothing about drinks, you’ll have noticed that gin is having a bit of a moment. There’s an ever-increasing number of bottles turning up on shop shelves, while classic and new gin cocktails – especially the negroni – are on the drinks menu in every bar.

SPIRIT OF THE WILD, Gin lover Valentine.

Gin’s fans are legion (and growing) and chef, food writer and outdoorsman Valentine Warner counts himself among them. “Gin is my absolute favourite spirit,” he declares. He likes it so much, in fact, that he’s gone and launched his own – Hepple. It’s named after the Hepple estate in Northumberland, owned by childhood friend Walter Riddell. I’m joining the pair on a chilly hike through the estate’s hills and bogs to see where the gin comes from, and to find out how the spirit is made.

Bog myrtle adds eucalyptus and bay scents.

The rugged moorland of North East England is perfect for growing juniper, the essential ingredient in gin (the drink’s name goes back to the French word for juniper – genièvre). We stop to inspect a young juniper bush; the green (unripe) berries release a fresh, piney blast when I bite into them – but Walter explains that not all is well with juniper in Britain. “A fungus that attacks the roots has been wiping out plants all over the country. No one knows how it’s spread,” he explains. Extra juniper seedlings have been planted on the estate to help overcome the threat of disease.

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About delicious. Magazine

Celebrate spring with delicious. magazine this April. Enjoy Felicity Cloake’s perfect menu, Valentine Warner’s gin-based recipes, The Ivy’s classic shepherd’s pie, cheese-free vegetarian recipes and top curries from around the world. For baking inspiration, try Mary Berry’s afternoon tea, Chetna Makan’s pistachio and cardamom cake or a zesty lemon scone. And to top everything, there’s a 16-page bread special with our 10 best bread recipes.