If you love Gin then this post could make you a little envious. With huge thanks to 365Tickets Adam and I were able to visit the fantastic Bombay Sapphire Distillery which is conveniently close to my home town here in Hampshire. I remember going past the derelict Laverstoke mill every day on my way to college and now seeing it’s a thriving and, to my amazement and happiness, incredibly environmentally friendly business which features my favourite spirit.
The Bombay Sapphire Distillery is located at the old Laverstoke Mill between Whitchurch and Overton. If you’re traveling by train you can depart from either of these stations although I would recommend a taxi as it’s not walking distance from either. Or you can catch the 76 bus from either Basingtoke or Andover and get off just outside the distillery. Buses are every half an hour on weekdays and Saturdays. The majority of the ground is flat however there are some stairs. Personally, its not somewhere I would take children as Evie would just get bored looking around however they do make non alcoholic cocktails in the bar and I did see a couple of kids there.
We met with the brand ambassador Sam Carter who must literally breathe Gin. He has a wealth of knowledge given his years of experience in the industry and working with Bombay Sapphire. He is clearly incredibly passionate and proud of the brand he represents and his tour was interesting, informative and entertaining. Our tour started in the Empire Room which is a large bar. I believe this is where the cocktail masterclass takes place as it’s a great place to show off lots of delicious Gin cocktails. We met there with a few other bloggers who were going to be enjoying the tour alongside us. We started off talking about the different types of Gin there are, how it’s made and how the distillery works today. It was so interesting to learn how everything on site is recycled and that the place is powered by natural sources such as the water turbine and solar panels. They don’t use landfills and there are no plastic straws in the bar. I love when big businesses like this do their part for the environment and protection of our wildlife. It’s great to see it’s a real forward thinking business.
When you arrive you are given an interactive map which is what you use to grab your cocktail at the end of the visit so it’s worth keeping hold off.
After learning that Bombay Sapphire is a London Dry Gin we headed out into the cold, but dry, thankfully, to start out tour. I loved listening to the history of Gin and how long it’s been around, when the first Gin and Tonic was created (which was for health purposes – good to know!) and view the different bottles over the years. There was also a display of different glasses that had been entered into the glass making competition and there were so many creative and innovative glass types.
After this we headed into the glass house which is the only new building on site and is a truly stunning piece of architecture. We learned about all the different botanicals (get your five a day from a G&T am I right?!) and how they’re grown. They’re is a Tropical and a Mediterranean house which features the ten botanicals featured in Bombay Sapphire. The Tropical house can get very hot in the summer and it was noticeably warmer. The Mediterranean house had a very distinct aroma which was very pleasent.
Moving on we entered the dry botanicals room which is an interactive guest experience. Here you can smell 22 different dried botanicals used in the Gin and then you use a little stamp card to punch your absolute favourite scents. This was good fun and there were some really nice smells although there were a few not so nice for my nose ones too. I’m not a fan of pine smells I’ve learned but I did very much enjoy the citrus scents. This card can then be used to hand in at the Mill Bar and the cocktail mixers will make the cocktail most suited to your tastes.
After this we headed into the distillery and learned more about how Bombay Sapphire is made. They use a vapour infusion process which is where they layer the botanicals in a very specific way in baskets which are then placed in copper tubs and as the alcohol is distilled and turned to steam it infuses with the botanicals and then condenses back down to liquid. It looks like a very complex process and there was a sample of very, very strong alcohol to smell which did knock you back a bit!
We then headed back to the Empire Room for our cocktail class and to sample the different tastes of the Gin Bombay Sapphire has to offer. This was a really great tasting experience and to watch the cocktails being made was really fun. I think my favourite was the Tom Collins which was exactly as Sam said, an adults Lemonade and one I will be attempting to make at home. We both really enjoyed the Laverstoke which was Adam’s choice of cocktail in the Mill Bar. This was really tasty and very Christmassy with the addition of ginger ale. Heading down to the Mill Bar we handed in our stamp cards and got ourselves our cocktails.
The whole experience was just fantastic and we both really enjoyed it. It was really nice to have a bit of ‘us’ time just before Christmas.
Disclaimer: In exchange for this feature I was offered a complimentary visit to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery and able to bring a guest with me. All opinions remain my own.