New gin launch helps raise funds for Tar Barrel tradition

Beth Ashfield and Andrea Broadhurst at the Coldharbour Farm Shop.

Beth Ashfield and Andrea Broadhurst have launched a new gin - Credit: Archant

When the pandemic hit, many of us turned to alcohol but none more so than Ottery business women Andrea Broadhurst and Beth Ashfield.

The pair, who own the popular Coldharbour Farm Shop, were looking at ways to diversify after their cafe and outside catering operation was forced to shut temporarily, and hit on the idea of creating a gin.

A clear bottle of gin with a label showing a man running with a flaming tar barrel

The Flaming Barrel Gin in honour of Ottery's long-standing tradition - Credit: Coldharbour Farm

They were already stocking a range of drinks and spirits made locally.

Inspired by the major growth in brewing and distilling on their doorstep, Andrea and Beth decided to create a drink that was synonymous with the area.

Andrea said: “We have a vodka called Black Cow which is made from milk by-products in Dorset, another made from potatoes grown in South Devon, a gin made in Exmouth and rums distilled on the Isles Of Scilly.

“We have always been fascinated by the stories behind these products and so our gin is a tribute to Ottery and its most famous tradition.

“We decide the barrels would be the perfect inspiration for an exciting new tipple. The label is even based on a photograph of my dad, Roger, who rolled barrels in the 60s, 70s and 80s.”

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After extensive research the pair commissioned Exmoor Distillery just 42.5 miles away to create their bespoke blend.

“Our recipe is a closely guarded secret but it has hints of kaffir lime leaves, pink peppercorns and liquorice which dance on your tongue,” said Andrea.

“Our blending expert was like an alchemist and the first gin he made is one we went for.”

Andrea is a fourth generation farmer who is passionate about quality and locally sourced produce and so the gin was a natural progression for the farm shop.

“It’s been a hugely exciting journey and a real team effort,” she said.

Flaming Barrel Gin made a successful debut at the Ottery St Mary Food & Families Festival earlier this month.

The Flaming Barrel Gin

The Flaming Barrel Gin - Credit: Coldharbour Farm

A £5 donation was made to the tar barrels committee from every one of the 145 bottles pre-ordered or sold during the food festival, making £725 in total.

The last 20 years has seen the cost of staging the tar barrel rolling rise significantly due to modern day legislation and public liability insurance.
Andrea said: “Like a lot of organisations the tar barrels committee have been struggling during the pandemic and so were keen to do what we could to support the event which inspired our gin.”

Coldharbour Farm Shop in Slade Road, East Hill, Ottery has been worked by the Williams family for four generations.

After seeking his fortune in London, Harry Williams returned to Devon in the early 1930s and built the farm and farmhouse to begin a life of dairy farming.

Handing the farm down to his son Gerald, Andrea’s Grandad, until it was time to pass down to Roger, Andrea’s Dad, in the late 1960s, Coldharbour Farm continued to be a working, family dairy farm.

Although dairy farming has ceased, Andrea currently farms the land with a little help from her flock of Dorset Ewes and a handful of pigs.
Andrea and Beth were introduced by a mutual friend and soon realised they had a lot in common.
They decided to join forces and Coldharbour Farm Shop was born in 2016, initially selling jams and chutneys, free-range eggs, apple juice and a few other home-produced items with just an honesty box.
Their cafe was opened in 2017 and they have since won a Taste of the West Gold Award for their breakfast using bacon and sausages from their own outdoor reared pigs.
The cafe, which serves homemade meals using homegrown and local produce, has now reopened to the public with social distancing in place.

As a nod to Coldharbour’s history, the farm shop and cafe are on the part of the land which used to be the farm’s dairy parlour.

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