The story of WE’s rhubarb injection is a matter of happenstance, history and heart. Tom and Sion were searching for a fruity follow-up to the success of their Elderflower and Sloe gins, visiting an agricultural trade fair for inspiration. They pored over what was on display, talking to the farmers as they went from stand to stand. One farmer caught their attention thinking that his green gages and other types of plums would work well in gin.
That’s when he told the story of his rhubarb and its long and regal history.
The farmer’s strain of rhubarb currently finds itself on a farm in Lincolnshire where it arrived in the UK not too long ago after a fifty-year absence. It had disappeared from English lands after World War II bombings and its former keepers for years thought it lost. But found it was!
Before its delicious return to the UK, the rhubarb grew at Áras an Uachtaráin, which means House of the President in Irish and is still today the official residence of said President. Before the leaders of the Emerald Isle moved into the mansion, it was the summer house of the British Viceroy of Ireland from 1780 onwards. The house has received numerous state visits in its existence, for instance in 2011 from Barack and Michelle Obama. British monarchs have also rested their heads, including George V in 1911 and Queen Victoria in 1900.
Nobody is completely sure, but it appears that the rhubarb may have arrived at Áras an Uachtaráin during this visit. For this particular strain of rhubarb first grew in Queen Victoria’s gardens at Buckingham Palace, thus the gin’s name, Victoria Rhubarb.
The two distillers loved the rhubarb’s story, secured a batch, and set to experimenting with it and how it would best accommodate their Harrington Dry. First they tried cooking it, but that didn’t work. Next they squeezed the juice from the vegetable with a cider press which resulted in a pink liquid. Instead of using the spring water to cut the Harrington Dry down to bottle strength, they just added the pink rhubarb juice, and voila, Victoria Rhubarb Gin was born!
The result: a sweet and crisp rhubarb flavour. The texture is creamy, and the gin is soft and smooth enough to be drunk neat. It makes an excellent Gin and Tonic, and also works very well with ginger ale.