I find it very hard to resist the idea of a flavoured gin - or any odd liqueur, it has led to some dreadful mistakes in the way of alcohol purchases. I fear I will never quite live down a really unpleasant, and very expensive, holly eau de vie - and yet I still don't learn. Last year at a gin festival I used a precious token, whilst still entirely sober, to try a Parma violet flavoured gin. It tasted exactly as you might expect, and didn't impress the friend I was sharing with (her choices were all impeccable). I can't resist the romance of the idea (I'd match Parma violet gin with something like Ethel. M. Dell's 'The Way of an Eagle', the gin wasn't bad - but a little went a long way. I imagine a good mixologist could make something witty and delicious out of it, maybe one day I'll find out. Ethel. M. Dell is hard going, but a phenomenon in her day which makes her interesting.)
Warner Edwards Rhubarb gin on the other hand is bloody marvellous, my bottle was a gift from someone who knows me well enough to have the gift giving thing nailed, and who also has the good taste to choose something delicious as well as vaguely novel. It's also a local gin to me, or local enough, it's made on the Leicestershire/Northamptonshire border.
The Warner Edwards story is a good one, their Harrington Dry gin which forms the base of this one is excellent, and all the ingredients for their flavoured gins have excellent local provenance. Warner Edwards do have a national presence (you can buy them in John Lewis of all places) but they're also a great local product. Not every gin can be a big selling brand name, but every good gin can make its mark locally, and there's something really satisfying about finding a product rooted in its landscape.
Thankfully though this gin is widely available because it's the perfect mix of sweet and tart. It makes a brilliant martini with a dash of orange bitters to bring out the citrus, and a very pink and summery long drink mixed with something like Crabbies rhubarb flavoured ginger beer. It feels pleasingly feminine - it's very pink - nostalgic in an English country garden sort of way, and is still a serious gin that deserves a bit of respect (that sugar is balanced with the sort of astringency that makes me think of Maggie Smith giving a withering set down in her best dowager countess mode).
Book wise it deserves a mix of romance and humour. Nothing too sensational, but with plenty of charm. D E Stevenson's 'Miss Buncle's Book' fits the bill for me.