Bombay Sapphire Distillery is situated in the heart of Laverstoke. Surrounded by a sea of fields and trees, it is hidden in the English countryside of Hampshire. In 2013, Bombay Sapphire bought the grounds, which was once an old paper and silk mill. The water-powered mill has over 1,000 years of history, and this is echoed throughout the tour of the distillery.
Firstly, let me tell you what Bombay Sapphire is. It is a London Dry Gin, first made by Thomas Dakin in 1761. Gin is made from grain and is then redistilled with a selection of botanicals. One common botanical in all gin is juniper. Bombay Sapphire’s recipe uses ten botanicals;
We began our experience with a Cocktail Master Class, lead by a Gin Specialist. I was surprised to see this was a female, as Master Classes are predominantly run by males. The Specialist started our session by telling us about Bombay Sapphire’s tasting notes, and then demonstrated how to make their bespoke cocktail, The Laverstoke, served in a Bombay Sapphire Balloon Glass. It consisted of Bombay Sapphire (of course), Martini Bianco, Elder Flower Cordial, Lime and Ginger Ale. The demonstration was clear, easy to follow and we were left with a delicious beverage to drink after. She then talked us through the equipment used by bartenders whilst we finished our cocktail.
We then moved onto making our final cocktail, which was a twist on a Cosmopolitan. Bombay Sapphire, Cranberry Juice, Lime, St Germain and Elderflower Cordial were shaken over ice in a Boston Shaker, and then double strained into a Bombay engraved Martini glass. The Specialist made everyone feel at ease, and taught us easy to remember, sophisticated cocktails that we could make in the comfort of our own home.
After this we went on a self-lead tour around the Glass Houses. Similar to The Eden Project, the Glass Houses’ atmosphere is programmed to grow exotic plants and seeds that are then used within Bombay Sapphire. After this we were guided to the Botanical Room, where we used an Aroma Map to mark our preferred botanicals. From The Botanical Room, we are then taken into The Dakin Room where specialists talked through the distillation process of the spirit, as well as the rich history of the brand. The specialists were able to answer any questions or queries confidently, and they were enthusiastic in doing so.
Once the tour was over, the Aroma Map was then handed into the bar, where the bartenders used it as reference and made a complimentary cocktail or alcohol free drink, matching the preferences on the map. The drinks were beautifully garnished and full of flavour. What made the experience even better was the focus on responsible drinking. Drivers and non-drinkers had a free take-away miniature bottle of Bombay Sapphire and Tonic, as well as a complimentary non-alcoholic cocktail.
The distillery is situated in a beautiful location, and the staff created a warm and friendly atmosphere with exceptional customer service. It is not a place to go and get obliterated. It is a place to go and have unique and educational experience surrounding the history and taste of gin, and is definitely worth a visit.