A little while ago, we decided to take a trip to Laverstoke Mill, the home of Bombay Sapphire Distillery. Not going to lie, I was pretty excited…particularly as Hubby had offered to drive.
Laverstoke Mill is located in Hampshire, less than 20 minutes from Winchester in beautiful surroundings. The Mill, steeped in history dating back to 1086, became vacant in 2005 and was purchased by Bombay Spirits Company in 2010. After work with British designer Thomas Heatherwick, distilling began in autumn 2013 and Bombay Sapphire Distillery opened it’s doors to the public in September 2014.
We arrived around lunchtime, the grey skies were not going to dampen our spirits, not with the promise of gin ahead! We had booked in advance, so on arrival we were offered our personal interactive guides and off we went. These tour booklets are compatible with information hot spots around the site, just tap your guide book on blue signs, sit back on the benches provided, relax and learn.
The two giant Botanical Glasshouses were truly spectacular and offering visitors the opportunity to see botanicals in their natural state. The shape and design of the glasshouses, cleverly gives the illusion of the botanicals being funnelled into the botanical dry room and Dakin still house.
The botanical dry room gave a fun and interactive botanical tour, which involved the aroma map at the back of the guide books. You are invited to taste/smell 22 different aromas which have been arranged around the room. They are each given a number and divided into 5 categories, stamp your favourites using the hole punch provided and take your map to the bar…all shall become clear! A glass wall provided a clear view into the still house, which was to be our next stop.
There were strict rules on entering the still house, due to the high level of alcohol vapour in the air and the risk of sparks. We therefore had to switch off our mobile phones and make sure we were not wearing high heels. Once inside we were introduced to Thomas and Mary, the two vintage Carterhead stills, named after the founder of Warrington Gin, Thomas Dakin, and his granddaughter. The process of gin making was explained and we were told how the botanics are chosen, although the recipe is a closely guarded secret. We then got to taste some 95% pure alcohol gin straight from the giant still…such a small amount that even Hubby could have some…much to our designated driver’s delight!
The Gallery offered a beautiful insight into the history of Bombay Sapphire over 250 years and showed off their links with design. There were so many gin glasses on display choosing our favourite was like Bombay Sapphire’s version of the cup scene from Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade! A quick trip into the Laverstoke Mill Heritage Room for some last minute history then off to the bar!
At this point you had to hand over your stamped aroma map to one of the friendly mixologists behind the bar and the magic began! They used your favourite botanical aromas to create the perfect cocktail for you, and even better…it was all included in the ticket price! What about the designated driver? Well, they had that covered too! Drivers are offered a complimentary soft drink in the Mill Bar and then pick up a complimentary takeaway Gin & Tonic pack from the Gin Shop. Gin-ious idea!
Thank you so much, Bombay Sapphire Distillery, for such a wonderful, well rounded day out! History, art, design, and of course, gin!
Bombay Sapphire Distillery
Hampshire RG28 7NR