My Fantasy Food & Drink Awards

In the absence of this year’s celebrated Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards, I thought, why not create our own fantasy version? Warner’s has been proud headline sponsor of the CLFDA for over 15 years and in that time we’ve had the pleasure of tasting some truly remarkable products. We’ve also seen some of those products grow from small cottage industries to huge Cotswold success stories and it’s been fantastic to be a part of their journey.

For me, an outstanding local product is one that is consistently good and that stays true to its roots. Back in 2006 when we first set out to champion local Cotswold producers, I don’t think any of us realised quite how big some of these stories would become.


There are a handful of producers who I’ve worked alongside for almost 20 years who are enjoying the sort of widespread recognition we could only have dreamed of back then. They are the producers, who, whenever anyone mentions their names or talks about their products, it makes me smile.

They’ve produced consistently excellent products for over a decade and they’re still knocking it out of the park today. They are the real deal and on every level, I can’t help but want to champion their success.

So, that’s what I’m doing now by nominating them for our Fantasy Food & Drink awards (although I could have more than doubled that list if I’d had more space on the page!) And the Warner’s award-winners are…

Cotswold Distillery

In my fantasy awards, I couldn’t not point to Cotswold Distillery. What Dan Szor has done over the last decade is amazing. Cotswold whisky? It should be all wrong, but somehow, it’s not. I can’t quite believe we’re talking about Cotswold whisky in the same vein as Scottish whisky but that’s where we’re at. Cotswold Distillery is a global brand that’s stayed true to its local roots and a trip to this superb distillery is now a number one thing to do in the area.


Cotswold Gold

Cold-pressed, extra virgin rapeseed oil that started out as a university degree coursework project and is now served by celebrity chefs in top restaurants across the country? You couldn’t make it up! The man behind the brand, Charlie Beldam, is from a generation of Cotswold farmers that supports all things local. For me, this product embodies everything about what it means to be honestly and truly locally-made.


Kitchen Garden Foods

You could credit Barbara Moinet and her homemade strawberry jam as the springboard for my foray into local food and drink. Almost the entire jar consisted of a strawberry, and it was amazing. I remember thinking ‘I need to sell that!’ Now under the stewardship of James Moinet and James Harwood, the company has proved it has stood the test of time with over 100 awards for its handmade products.


Simon Weaver Organic

If you thought ‘Cotswold brie’ was an oxymoron, you’ve not tried this cheese that has almost legendary status in the Cotswolds. Simon Weaver has done that ingenious thing of making something that doesn’t sound quite right, very right indeed! The product is fabulous, proven by the fact it’s still going strong since being established in 2005. And extra points for being organic, something which takes real commitment and vision.

Visit this month’s Meet to read more about Simon Weaver Organic brie and enjoy £1 off all varieties!


Hayles Fruit Farm

When we talk about local producers, it’s easy to overlook those hard-working individuals who are growingproduce rather than making it. That’s what farmer Martin Harrell has been doing at his Toddington farm for years. Growing fantastic produce, be it an apple, pear, plum or strawberry, is just as much an art form as anything else and I’ve seen first-hand the hard work that goes into it.