April is a busy birthday month, and amongst others, it’s my boyfriends as well as mine. After the house and all the expense that has come with that, we decided to keep our gifts to one another small this year. I opted to take him to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, which is just north of Winchester – about 40 minutes from us. As a gin lover, and a particular fan of Bombay Sapphire, it seemed like an obvious choice!
I booked the tickets online for the self guided tour – this is the cheapest experience they offer and is £15 per person. On arrival, you get an interactive map which you can swipe at several points around the site to hear more about areas. We wandered around the old mill and the green houses before entering the distillery itself, which I have no photos of because it’s an explosive atmosphere meaning all electronic equipment has to be kept off. This is the part of the session where you do actually get shown round and we spent 45 minutes with a small group and a guide learning how Bombay Sapphire is distilled and produced. It was fascinating to hear about how the distillers work, and how they have to be trained to have a calibrated nose in order to do their job. The recipe for Bombay Sapphire has been passed down from distiller to distiller and is a well kept secret!
Included in your ticket is a cocktail, of which you spend some time sniffing different ingredients, and selecting your favourites. A cocktail maker then chooses one that fits your taste buds and we enjoyed ours outside by the river. Mine was a peachy number and Sam’s was a (lethal) concoction of lemon, gin and Presecco! Sam picked up a few bits to take home in the shop, including Bombay Sapphire East, which is a more peppery version of their gin, which was made for the American market to combat their slightly sweeter tonic.
The site of Laverstock Mill is beautiful and we were told locals often pop in for an evening drink in the bar to enjoy the river and it’s surroundings. An old paper mill, it was derelict when Bombay Sapphire bought it and the distillery has been on the site since 2014. If you’re a gin lover, I’d definitely recommend it as a good afternoon out – we were there around 2 hours and it was really nice to do something a bit different. They also offer 4 hour gin master class experiences which are a little bit more special so it’s worth keeping in mind for birthdays!
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