Last month I visited the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, north of Winchester, in Hamphire. I don’t know if it’s because of the current context but I was in the mood for gin! Of course, alcohol is a very very bad thing… 🙂… Even worse if, like me, you prefer pure Gin than Gin Tonic! Yes, I know! Sorry!…Anyway! Even if you don’t drink gin, the visit of the distillery is very interesting, why? First of all, because the Bombay Sapphire production place is in an old historical building called Laverstoke Mill. In the past, it was a place where paper was produced! It’s only recently (in 2014) that it became a gin distillery after the place has been empty for many many years…
So let’s start by having a closer look at the old buildings:
Then, as a contrast to the old times, a modern touch has been added: I love the two glasshouses created by the Heatherwick Studios. On the right glasshouse you’ll find all the tropical plants and in the left glasshouse you’ll find the Mediterranean vegetation. A beautiful way of discovering the 10 different botanical ingredients that are in the Bombay Sapphire gin: juniper berries, coriander, lemon peel, angelica, orris root, liquorice, almonds, cassia bark, cubeb berries and grains of paradise.
Then, our guide explained the history of the Bombay Sapphire Gin. I didn’t know it was only in 1987 that the bottle has become blue which has boosted the sales! I love this blue! Of course, the guide didn’t give us the secret recipe for their gin but we headed to the Dry Room where we were able to see and smell all the 10 ingredients.
Before leaving, you go through the shop. I bought a bottle of one of their new gin, “Star of Bombay”, a gin for people who prefer to drink it pure. I will let you know if I like it or not!
At the end we are all invited to sit at a table in the Mill Bar to taste a house cocktail. As I was driving, I took a non-alcoholic one (which was delicious) and they offered me a miniature of gin to try at home (no take-away if you choose the alcoholic cocktail).
Before leaving, you go through the shop. I bought a bottle of one of their new gin, a gin for people who prefer to drink it pure. I will let you know if I like it or not!
My kids were at school but good to know that you can visit the distillery with them (free for kids under 5 and 10£ for older kids – price for adult is 17.50£)
To visit the Bombay Sapphire Distillery during Covid Times:
- You need to book online in advance on their website.
- There will be only guided tours, no self guided tours anymore.
- You must wear a mask during the visit (they will provide you with one)
- Groups will be kept small. In the Dry Room, you only share the ingredients with your households/friends, not with the other visitors.
- I felt totally safe during the guided tour.
- If you need an accommodation, I suggest you check the B&Bs in Whitchurch, the nearby village.