Our cocktail creator Maya headed out to some fantastic gin distilleries and wanted to share some notes from her adventures with our lovely fans.
I know I speak for all of us when I say that gin is abso-bloody-lutely marvellous; I want to drink as many different kinds of gin, as frequently possible and never, ever suffer from ‘overdoing it’, so to speak.
That, sadly, doesn’t always go to plan.
The other side effect of gin being such a focal point of my life (the kind that I don’t get rid of with masses of water and a couple of ibuprofen) is that I’m finding myself wanting to learn as much as possible. I don’t just mean finding out which botanicals are in my favourite tipple or a little bit about the history of gin; I want to know about how it’s made, and where, and what difference either of these things make! I want to see the stills, the bottling plants, and meet the people for whom gin is a labour of love. I’d also like to do so with a G&T in hand.
I thought about it, I could try and sneak in, watch, listen and take notes then run wild once everyone left for the day but I might a) be accused of trying to steal trade secrets, or b) get arrested for breaking and entering and/or attempted burglary.
Easier, and cheaper (than legal fees), is going on a tour of a distillery. More and more gins are opening the doors to their adoring public, so I’ve had a little nosy around and thought I’d share with you guys!
The first new distillery in London for almost 200 years
Sipsmiths, the original craft distillers, do their tour in style. First, you’re greeted with a G&T, then they dive into gin’s chequered past, introduce you to Prudence, Patience and Constance (their beautiful, copper stills) and - best of all - follow this up with a tutored tasting of their range!
The tours cost £15pp and run from 6.30pm until 8pm on selected weekdays.
The only “truly single-estate” distilled gin in the UK
Based on a working farm in Hereford, William Chase are proud to be provide the only truly single-estate distillation process in the UK. There’s is a unique tour and tasting experience will unlock some of the secrets and skills that go into creating the award-winning range of premium Chase spirits.
Tours are held on Fridays at 12.00pm and 3.00pm and will last approximately an hour and a half.
Back in the City
City of London Distillery host a fabulous range of tours (and even offer the chance to make your own gin!), the standard tour begin with a warm welcome and a cold G&T, before teaching you about the history of gin and all about how City of London’s gins are made. You get to meet their stills Clarissa and Jennifer, the two fat ladies) before going on to see where the gins are bottled, labelled and sealed.
Tours cost £10 and take place on Monday to Fridays, each week (not Bank holidays), at 12:00 midday and last approximately 45 minutes.
The oldest gin distillery in the City
Now I know we don’t usually mention the bigger distilleries here, we like to give space to the smaller, craft companies who don’t necessarily have the same kind of exposure as Tanqueray or Beefeater. That said, Beefeater's tour gives you the chance to see the history of gin like no other tour. There is a short, self-guided walk through a gin museum followed by a detailed talk on the history of Beefeater and its botanicals. Before settling down to a nice G&T, you’re shown the full range of their stills, old and new.
The visitor centre is open Monday to Saturday, 10am - 6pm and costs £12.
There are more distillery tours out there but this is a good mix of what’s available, so get booking and explore gins history for yourself! Who ever saw a gift shop so appealing.
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