In the first of our new occasional series we showcase one of the UK’s most visually striking distilleries: Bombay Sapphire’s Laverstoke Mill!
What would any discerning gin enthusiast enjoy most? The chance to expand their gin knowledge? An opportunity to uncover the secrets, skill and artistry behind world-famous brands? A window into how their favourite spirit is made? A distillery tour, of course, where you can do all these things and more!
If you need a good place to start, then we have a suggestion… Hampshire’s Laverstoke Mill, where Bombay Sapphire gin has been made since 2014. You can learn about the brand’s history in the heritage room, see the botanicals used to create the gin in the iconic glasshouses and dry room, say hello to Mary and Thomas* in the Dakin Still House, and enjoy the dedicated bar (yay!) and gift shop (double yay!!).
Interest piqued? Why not take a look at the distillery in pictures right here – so you can get an idea of the treat you’re in for if you do stop by and visit.
Welcome to Bombay Sapphire Distillery! Although there is evidence of a mill on the site since at least 903 AD, the first official records of Laverstoke Mill date to a corn producer marked in the 1086 Domesday Book. Prior to the arrival of Bombay Sapphire, the mill produced Bank of England watermarked banknote paper for nearly 250 years.
Journey on the Bombay Bus! The shuttle makes regular trips to and from nearby Overton and Micheldever stations ensuring visitors arrive in style.
The River Test, the purest chalk stream in the UK, flows through the site, providing a unique wetland habitat (you’ll probably notice the ducks and fish). The river runs through a turbine, part of a renewable energy programme at Bombay Sapphire.
A real highlight at Laverstoke Mill: the two iconic, intertwining glasshouses. Designed by Heatherwick Studios, they are in fact two separate structures providing one humid and one dry, temperate environment. This means the ten different gin botanicals, sourced from both the tropics and the Mediterranean, have a perfect growing environment.
Visitors can discover the aromas and flavour profile of each of the exotic botanicals in Laverstoke Mill’s Botanical Dry Room. There are 22 jars of different flavours and guests can smell each one. A real treat for the gin geeks among us…
The Dakin Still House, home to the famous carterhead stills at Bombay Sapphire Distillery. Every drop of Bombay Sapphire is distilled on-site in a total of four stills. This picture depicts two of them, Mary, which is the still closest to the camera, and Thomas, which is just to her right (your left). These exact stills have produced the Bombay gins for years but were almost lost in a 2005 fire at the previous distillery.
There is also the opportunity to explore the rich history of both Laverstoke Mill and Bombay Sapphire within the Heritage Room and Gallery.
Overlooking the River Test, and positioned above the Heritage Room, the Empire Bar is home to Bombay Sapphire senior ambassador Sam Carter, who hosts cocktail masterclasses and designs Bombay Sapphire’s signature cocktails. If you fancy another drink it’s worth noting that The Empire Bar is often a hangout for the world’s top bartenders…
The Gin Cocktail Masterclass: a one-hour Cocktail Masterclass with sampling.
It doesn’t just have to be a day trip; you can stay and explore Laverstoke Mill at night. After all, it’s an event space that hosts corporate events, meetings, banquets, private parties and more…
If you’re a fan of the moving pictures, check out Bombay Sapphire’s shiny Laverstoke Mill video…
Bombay Sapphire offers an Ultimate Experience tour package, which includes a behind-the-scenes experience hosted by a senior brand ambassador as well as a cocktail masterclass, buffet lunch, and even a gift. For more info, check out the brand’s website.
*That’s what the stills are named, in case anyone was confused for a moment there.