Last year, for Dad’s birthday, I organised a trip to the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillary, which is at Laverstoke Mill near Winchester (website here). We opted for the simplest option, an unguided tour around the distillery with a cocktail at the end – perfect!
Laverstoke Mill is a huge, beautiful old building which was originally a paper mill, and has now been repurposed as the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery – and is the site where all the Bombay Sapphire is distilled and dispatched to suppliers. It was incredible to learn about the history of Bombay Sapphire, and how it has developed to become the huge name that it is today.
The distillery has two huge greenhouses where the botanicals are kept, and they are heated using heat from the distillery process.
The heat from the distillery chambers flows into the greenhouses from these connecting pipes. Isn’t that amazing? Bombay Sapphire pride themselves in being eco friendly – they re-use the heat from the distilling process, they burn the leftover botanical pump from the distilling to heat the columns, and they have solar panels fitted to the roof.
Next to one of the distillery rooms is effectively a classroom filled with the botanicals used to make the gin. You are given cards at the beginning to help you choose which cocktail you receive at the end of the tour – and how you react to each of the botanicals determines which cocktail you would most enjoy. Each botanical has a smelling jar with the fragrance trapped inside, and you task is to smell each and take note of which ones you like – there was spicy smells, woody smells, fruity smells and so on.
The distillery room itself was VERY hot – as you would expect! It was very interesting learning more about the distilling process, and we were given a little of the undiluted end product to try – it was incredibly strong, but left the most amazing fragrant aftertaste of the botanicals! The alcohol was so strong that it evaporated almost immediately on your tongue.
I opted for a fruity cocktail at the end of the tour – which was very nice indeed – and Tom opted for a raspberry spritz. One of the things I really liked about our visit was the attention to detail – if you were the designated driver (sorry Tom!) you were given a Mocktail as well as a little drivers pack (a mini bottle of gin and a mini tonic) to take home with you.
I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery if you are ever given the chance – even if gin isn’t your favourite tipple! It was a really interesting experience, in a beautiful rural setting with lots of history – plus a delicious cocktail and a great gift shop!