When Paul Bowler of Winchester Distillery delved into his parents’ drinks cabinet at the tender age of 12, the first thing he came across was a rather old bottle of Gordon’s Gin.
“It was surprisingly palatable,” he says with a smile. “Even as a student, when cider and black was about as sophisticated as it got, I always liked a gin and orange.”
An appreciation of quality when it came to drinking stayed with Paul, who after 20 years working in London in IT decided to rethink his career and indulge his passion for gin.
Wine Festival Winchester: big flavour with unsubtle notes of socialising and the heady whiff of fun.
I’m at the Winchester home of BBC Saturday Kitchen wine experts Susie Barrie and Peter Richards, who usher me into their super stylish kitchen.
Both hold the prestigious Master of Wine title, making them part of a fairly rare species of experts from across the world. They are also half of the four-strong team behind Winchester’s Wine Festival, which is now in its third year and takes place at Guildhall.
“Indulge in a little bit of what you fancy as often as you can.” That’s what Gary Whiter, co-founder of Winchester’s Cabinet Rooms, believes.
Gary and Marcus Roe, the two bearded gentlemen, as they’ve become known, are kicking off the Summer with Ginchester Fête, a celebration of all things gin, which comes to the Great Hall on World Gin Day, 10 June. Tickets cost £10 and include a drink on arrival.
There are scary chefs and there are smiley chefs, and Andrew Mackenzie at Lainston House is definitely a smiley chef.
He’s so smiley, in fact, that when the Exclusive Hotels and Venues Group, of which the five-star hotel near Sparsholt is a part, decided to launch a Chefs Academy to nurture rising talent, it was Andrew they asked to lead it.
And so the executive chef who transformed Lainston House’s restaurant into a cracking place for really good locally-sourced food suddenly found himself back in the classroom.