I feel as though I have been through a “who do you think you are?” TV show - and it has definitely been a journey to make the Reverend Hubert’s Winter Gin Liqueur. No wonder the liqueur is ground breaking and no wonder, as there is nothing like it on the planet. It has been a massive labour of love and pain (Mainly pain so far).
For those who love an authentic story may I suggest you find a quiet spot and pour yourself a drink?
Following my honeymoon on the spectacular Amalfi coast, I returned to London with a limoncello habit. At the time, you couldn’t get a decent version here for love or money. Fluorescent yellow, heavy on saccharine and with a synthetic aftertaste, the choice was decidedly limited.
With the finest vodka and large juicy lemons ordered online from Amalfi, I set about making some decent pure liqueur. The results were lemony, fragrant, slightly syrupy, clear... not bad at all. Perfect for ending a summer’s day lunch.
I was soon eyeing up the magnificent cherry tree in our garden, which had just fruited with a bumper crop (usually there were only a couple of handfuls). The wonderful organic cherries were bathed in various spirits and, experimenting with only my intuition, cherry gin, vodka and brandy were born. They were marvellous and lauded by friends and family during the winter’s festive parties and dinners.
During one dinner, my aunt presented a smashed up WW1 hipflask with a barely legible label - it contained Reverend Hubert’s winter liqueur and a recipe of sorts. Here began the lesson.
I recreated the Reverend’s homemade liqueur for Christmas day with family and various stragglers. It was basic, as you would expect, but heavenly. With a nightcap in hand and a Fortnum and Mason mince pie (they are the best in the world) for Santa left by the stockings, it occurred to me that after 40 years I had found my calling and a skill had passed through the genes from my great grandfather.
I began making batches of Reverend Hubert’s Winter Gin Liqueur, which I sold to parents on the rugby touch lines and a few local pubs and restaurants. Sales went berserk and word of mouth created interest for weddings, parties and gifts. The momentum meant 4am starts, dozens of kilner jars, bulk buying bottles and Waitrose carrier bags, full of oranges, lemons and gin. My local check out staff probably thought I was a odd man with a drinking problem! It was chaotic and fun. There were speeding fines and spillages in the car and hundreds of bottles arrived safely.
ABOUT THE REVEREND
The Reverend was a jolly and kind man better suited to the vicarage and making friends than war.
He moved across the globe for his country and across England for his religion, settling in Hallam, Nottinghamshire. His charity commitments were endless with non-stop fundraising gatherings. When money was in short supply, he collected eggs (1,249 to be precise) to feed our wounded soldiers. Hubert was also responsible for the welfare of Belgian refugees and other charitable collections too numerous to list here. A small part of his charity work is continued by his great grandson with oranges replacing eggs via food banks, schools and churches for the those who need vitamin C most.
Hubert the scoutmaster, was at the heart of his community via church, croquet tournaments and tennis championships. He is best remembered for his cheeky grin which is apparent in every photograph. He lives on and so does his charity work at the vicarage.