“Discover the artistry and heritage behind Bombay Sapphire at our state-of-the-art distillery, set astride the banks of the crystal clear River Test.” Bombay Sapphire Distillery
The gin craze is alive and kicking in rural Hampshire at the home of Bombay Sapphire. Located in a three hundred year old former paper mill on the banks of the River Test, Laverstoke Mill, where banknote paper was once produced for the Bank of England, has been transformed into a state-of-the-art gin distillery that’s steeped in years of history.
A thing of natural beauty adorned with flora and wildlife, the historical conservation site attracts a steady stream of gin fans keen to take a peek behind the scenes of a working distillery and of course sample the range of gin based cocktails. The abundance of juniper based beverages is offset by stunning architecture in the form of two stunning glasshouses designed by British architect Thomas Heatherwick (designer of the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron). The heated glasshouses are used for showcasing the ten exotic botanicals that flavour the gin, Heatherwick also renovated the original Victorian buildings and was responsible for the construction of a new visitor centre.
We spent a sunny afternoon exploring the site including a tour inside the Dakin Still House where the unique vapour infusion process occurs. An essential part of the visit is discovering your own taste profile in the Dry Room where you sniff twenty-three ingredients to discover your personal preferences, findings are recorded and used to select your complimentary gin-based cocktail.
Completion of the tour sees everyone head straight to the Mill Bar to enjoy said signature crafted cocktail (mocktails available for those designated drivers who get to take a gin and tonic takeaway pack) and sip it in the courtyard overlooking the river. Various visitor options are available including self-discovery and hosted distillery tours, cocktail masterclasses, heritage and horticultural experiences and bespoke events.
Bombay Sapphire gin contains ten botanicals sourced from around the globe including the more unusual grains of paradise (West Africa), cubeb berries (Java) and cassia bark (Indo-China). The distinctive blue bottled gin is available to purchase in various guises, including fancy limited edition bottles, in the large retail area along with all sorts of gin related paraphernalia. The site, in my humble opinion, is lacking its own cafe/restaurant which would complement the drinks and judging by the volume of visitors certainly generate more revenue. There is, in lue of an actual venue, a standalone converted double decker bus that offers some snacks.
Whether you are a gin fan or not, the Bombay Sapphire Distillery is certainly worth a visit if you find yourself in the Hampshire countryside.
Bombay Sapphire Distillery
Location: Laverstoke Mill, Whitchurch, Hampshire. UK. RG28 7NR
Telephone: 01256 890090
Opening Times: Daily 10:00am – 8:00pm (last admission 6:00pm). Tickets must be purchased online in advance – click here for more information
All views are all my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated all photos © Jo Brett 2018. All rights reserved