Meet the maker: Emily Lambert
Emily Lambert runs Loxwood Mead with her partner in both business and life, Danny Bacon, the founder of the firm whom she met at a joust. She talks to Douglas Blyde about the drink’s global and sometimes fanciful past, how best to enjoy it, and her experience of being the first female sommelier of The Ritz hotel…
What is “honey wine”?
Honey wine, also known as mead, is made by fermenting honey and water. It is not a category encumbered by rules and regulations and can therefore be fermented into several different styles, including with fruits and spices. Due to the nature of its versatility, each person’s experience or connotations can be very different.
Is mead potentially England’s most traditional drink?
It is England’s, if not the world’s, most ancient drink. Scientists found fermented honey in pottery jars in Northern China dating to 9000 BC, being 1,000 years older than wine and beer, making it the oldest alcoholic drink known to humanity.
How best should we enjoy it?
Chilled in a white wine glass. Our Festival 18 mead is fresh enough to enjoy alone but also fantastic with food – especially a cheeseboard. The fresh acidity in the wine cuts through the richness of the cheese whilst the sweetness pairs with any sweet accompaniments; honey is often added to a cheeseboard so there is natural synergy too. It also works with honey-glazed pork belly, and butternut squash risotto.
Is mead ripe a buy for Valentine’s Day?
Yes, it is perfect to share with your loved one on Valentine’s. Indeed, Zeus enjoyed honey on his wedding day and believing it to possess sacred properties including immortality, strength and magical powers declared it the “Nectar of the Gods”. The love affair with honey wine continued into the Middle Ages when newly-weds were given enough “honey” wine to last one full “moon” which was considered to bring longevity and happiness to a new marriage. Move over oysters!
How has it been received by trade?
Most success has been reaped with wine bars, British restaurants and restaurants offering tasting menus with wine flights. We have found that the growing demand for alternative wines, such as natural, orange and pét-nat, and indeed homegrown wines have worked in our favour when discussing the potential for a new category. We are so excited to have “honey wine” positioned on a wine list in a Michelin-starred restaurant and wine bars and look forward to more establishments following suit.
Is Loxwood a place?
Yes, it is a village in West Sussex on the border with Surrey close to Billingshurst, and a village away from Dunsfold Aerodrome which is famous for the Top Gear race track.
How long has the brand been going?
Loxwood Meadworks was founded in 2018 by Danny. Loxwood currently works with a local winery to produce the range with the goal to build our own meadery.
How did you become involved in the Loxwood project?
I managed a pub in West Sussex called the Half Moon with Jodie Kidd which happened to be around the corner from Loxwood. A work colleague introduced Danny and I due to a shared interest in local wines. Danny later invited me to the Loxwood Joust in 2019 where we met in person and drank lots of honey wine! I was so impressed that I wanted to help out where I could, with social media, introductions and events work. In 2022 Danny asked if I would join the business in a full-time capacity and I jumped at the opportunity.
What is your role?
My official title is Sales and Development. However, when you work for a small company (Danny and me) you have to shape-shift into many different roles to get the job done – even including being the chief bottle wrapper!
What did you do before Loxwood?
Just before I joined Loxwood Meadworks full-time I did Business Development for Coravin in the UK.
Where did you grow up?
In Surrey, leaving mid-way through college to join the Ritz Academy training program in London which launched my career in hospitality.
What was it like being the first female sommelier at The Ritz hotel?
It was an amazing, memorable and challenging experience. In a restaurant where all my colleagues were men, there was constant pressure to work even harder to prove I deserved to be there, whilst understanding I still needed to learn and grow.
You were previously known for championing English wine – does that fascination continue?
My fascination and love for this category will only grow and evolve. English wine has been the catalyst for certain job opportunities, sparked new friendships, and been the drink of choice on special occasions.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To be present, listen, learn and enjoy the experiences presented. Life is what you make it and opportunities are all around you. Keeping a positive outlook will only attract more of what you want.
What is your New Year’s resolution?
To develop positive small habits that will help to achieve my larger goals. And, setting aside more “me time”.
Where can we buy Festival 18?
Check out our loxwoodmeadworks.com to get the wine delivered straight to your door gift-wrapped, search through our stockist page to see where you can buy or try it locally.