On Saturday 11th February, the High Sheriff of Warwickshire, David Kelham, hosted this event in the magnificent Warwick Castle. Guests were welcomed in the Great Hall, and the blind tasting, with all labels on the bottles concealed, took place in the undercroft. Gin, white, rosé and red wine, sparkling wine and beers from the host county and Surrey were available for tasting. Surrey’s choice of drinks were those produced by Wessex Gin, Silent Pool Gin, Crumbs Brewery, Greyfriars, Denbies, Albury Vineyard, High Clandon Vineyard and Chilworth Manor Vineyard. Tokens were used and placed in bags A, B, C or D, whichever matched the taster’s preferred choice of each type of drink. The bag with most tokens in it indicated which drink was most favoured.
Morris dancers performed in the Great Hall, as did a brass band. Local artisans set up their stalls there and in the adjoining magnificent room, along with Wessex Gin and Silent Pool Gin. The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Tim Cox, and his wife Penny, Mayors and local dignitaries – about 150 people in total – all had a most enjoyable evening.
The host County contributors won the match, by about the same margin as the Surrey producers won at Denbies in October So, that was a most equitable result. There were very close results in all categories, though the local cider won hands down: but then Surrey didn’t contest that!
Approximately £2,000 will be donated to Crimebeat, the charity supported by David Kelham in his year of office. The High Sheriff of Surrey warmly congratulated the High Sheriff of Warwickshire upon his county’s win and the success of the home producers. He further thanked him and his wife Philippa for their generous hospitality, and all their team who worked so hard in organising the evening and running it so successfully on the night. A number of people asked if there could be such an event next year. That will be a matter for next year’s High Sheriffs to decide.