Just enjoyed a great gin tasting session at the Wilkin & Sons factory in Tiptree. The purveyors of legendary Essex jams and marmalades have now expanded into fruit gins. The gin liqueurs are a combination of Witham-based Hayman's Gin and fruits gown by Wilkins & Son. The tasting session was in the factory's museum where we were surrounded by old jam-making equipment, vintage jam jars and pictures of the Wilkin founders and the current "Mr Peter" Wilkin, who still runs the old family firm.
First we tried Little Scarlet Strawberry gin made from the unique strawberries grown at Tiptree. This really was excellent, like drinking sweet alcoholic jam. Next it was English Raspberry and then English Damson. Credit to the member of our party who tried Damson gin with Prosecco (aka Fruit Gin Royale). Finally we sampled the Rhubarb gin, which unmistakably merged hints of rhubarb crumble with a string gin kick. All would be fine bases for cocktails. As the great Dr Feelgood might have sung, "you've got me on the jam and alcohol…" After the tasting we went to the tearoom's shop to buy Blood Orange marmalade, Little Scarlet jam (buy while stocks last after a poor summer for fruit) and some Tiptree Lemon Curd.
Wilkin & Son offer some hope of how we'll survive Brexit as they already have 11 tearooms in Essex and export all around the world. Another plus is that when Mr Peter retires it will become a worker's co-operative. Lovers of Wilkin & Son should also check out the chapter on Tiptree jam in my book The Joy of Essex. Thanks to Visit Essex for organising the tasting. Gin and jam — it doesn't get better than this.