Drinks

Published on December 19th, 2014 | by Gavin

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Bombay Sapphire Distillery Tour, Laverstoke Mill

Although many competitors will argue till the cows come home, Bombay Sapphire is the undisputed poster boy of gin.  The iconic blue bottle oozes sophistication and helped propel the brand into superstardom in the 80s and has been at the forefront of drinking culture worldwide ever since. So it was with great pleasure that I accepted an invitation to visit the brand new Bombay Sapphire distillery in Laverstoke Mills (about an hour from central London) for a guided tour of the global hub for all things Bombay related.

When the distillery opened in October 2014, it was designed not just to be a factory, but to be a place where fans can visit and share in the success of Britain’s favourite gin.  And when we pull up to the grounds, it certainly feels like an adult version of Thorpe Park (without all the rides of course; from past experience alcohol and G forces don’t make for a happy ending).

Bombay Sapphire Bottle History

Before Bombay Sapphire took over, Laverstoke has been a production mill since at least 903AD and most recently, it has created paper for the last 300 years. The entire area is a conservation site and the designers have managed to keep the traditional feel, while adding modern touches, with the most impressive being two huge glasshouses attached to a 300 year old building.

On entry through the barriers, we are greeted by senior ambassador, Sam Carter, and handed an interactive map so we can explore the grounds in our own time.  But before doing so, I was dying to see the two huge copper stills where all the magic happens.  Firstly we visit the impressive botanical glasshouses that showcase all ten Bombay Sapphire botanicals in their natural environments; the warmth of Tuscany where the juniper berries grow is welcome relief from the cold snap outside.  We watch on as the horticulturists tend to the plants, and although none of these are actually used in making the gin, they are cared for just as well.  After our brief stint as gardeners, we then move into the still house.

Glasshouses

Bombay Sapphire India House

Unlike some lower grades of gin that simply soak the botanicals, Bombay keeps them in a separate pot and vapour infuses the essence with the neutral spirit.  We are privileged to meet Master distiller Nik Fordham who tells us that he believes this method produces a more balanced gin, and judging by the number of units sold worldwide, it’s hard to disagree.  He adds that the two stills run 24 hours a day in order to keep up with demand and the team of distillers keep quality consistent by tasting throughout the 3 hour process (best job ever).

Bombay Botanicals

We then move onto the Heritage Room for a special Christmas cocktail masterclass, which unsurprisingly, is my favourite part of the day.  Sam demonstrates some excellent Christmas serves (recipes below) with my favourite being a festive twist on a G&T with orange juice and cranberry jelly.

Like any good theme park, there’s an even better gift shop.  Not only does this one contain some unusual Bombay creations, but also an exclusive bottle only available to buy in Laverstoke Mills, and can be yours for a cool £100- alcohol collectors will be yelping with excitement.

A trip to Laverstoke Mill is a thoroughly enjoyable day out and I was fascinated to learn more about such an important brand in British gin.  With a number of experience options available starting from only £15 per adult and its close proximity to London, a visit is mandatory for all gin lovers.

Heritage Room

Ultimate G&T Festive Twist

Ingredients: 50ml Bombay Sapphire, 50ml clementine/orange juice, 50ml Fever Tree tonic, 2 heaped teaspoons of cranberry jelly, lime wedge.

Method: Mix gin, jelly, and juice together in a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake.  Strain over cubed ice into large wine glass, then squeeze and drop in lime wedge.  Begin stirring and add tonic water.

2014-11-20 16.28.04

Bombay Sapphire Christmas Cup

Ingredients: 50ml Bombay Sapphire, 25ml pink grapefruit juice, 15ml spiced berry cordial, 100ml Fever Tree ginger beer.

Method: Shake gin, juice, and cordial in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add ginger beer then strain into an ice filled highball glass and garnish with mint and grapefruit wedge.

http://distillery.bombaysapphire.com/

Laverstoke Mill, London Road, Whitchurch RG28 7NR

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About the Author

Born and raised in Croydon, South London, Gavin is a lover of cocktails, a passionate foodie, and a self-proclaimed ‘dancing god’. A (relatively) normal guy that decided to start blogging about his experiences around the city he loves.



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