Whether you are a gin drinker or not, a visit to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill is a must.
The impressive visitor attraction, which opened in 2014, has been lovingly built in Victorian and Georgian buildings, which previously produced bank note paper for the Bank of England and British Empire. Using the local environment and the clear waters of the River Test, it is high on the list of sustainable attractions.
There is a choice of experiences to be enjoyed, from the Self Discovery to the hosted experiences, which must pre booked. On both you learn about the hundreds of years of history of Laverstoke Mill and the heritage of gin and Bombay Sapphire.
If you would like to discover at your own pace, opt for the Self Discovery tour where on arrival the knowledgeable staff will provide you with your own tour leaflet which has embedded technology to wake up the ‘whispering walls’.
Follow the map and the trail around the site at your leisure listening to key people who have transformed the site, from the redevelopment to the ecology and sustainability to the heritage of the distillery – all of which is fascinating.
The iconic glasshouses were designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the cloche-inspired features connect the historic brick buildings with the river with a beautiful flowing design. Inside the two glasshouses you will find the ten botanicals that make Bombay Sapphire in their natural state such as orris root, angelica and Cassia bark.
From here head to the Botanical Dry House and Dakin Still House where you are encouraged to sniff and smell a whole range of botanics from the earthy almond and liquorice root to the fresh citrus of lemon and coriander and the floral notes of cubeb berries.
Within your personal interactive guide you have an aroma map of all the botanicals where you are encouraged to choose the aromas you like by clipping a hole on the number provided. Once you have chosen a few ( no more than five is recommended) you can head to the Mill Bar for a cocktail matched to your tastes by one of the Gin Experts.
A tour of the Dakin Still House is recommended where you can see two of the Stills, which are still used today. Hear the story of Thomas and Mary, how the gin is infused and how methods changed to produce the London Dry Gin. It is these two Stills who help to produce the thousands of litres of Bombay Sapphire gin from the site every day.
Learn about how methods changed and how the Bombay Sapphire gin is still a secret that has been passed down for decades to the head distillery. After you have learned about the methods you get to sample a fresh batch which is 87% proof! Just a dip of the finger for this one!
From here to the Mill Bar for your cocktail. Don’t worry if you are driving, you can enjoy an non alcoholic cocktail and then have a Bombay Sapphire gin and mixer to enjoy at home in a goodie bag.
Cocktails include The Laverstoke, which was created in 2014 when the site opened and includes elderflower and ginger ale. There is also Brambled, Juniper Mule and the Queen Bee – all created by Master Mixologist Sam Carter for the summer cocktail list.
You can sit back and enjoy your cocktails on the terrace alongside the River Test enjoying the beautiful surroundings as butterflies dance. If you are peckish, visit the bus for snacks and cake.
Bombay Sapphire has to be one of the most impressive visitor attractions in Hampshire, with the world’s supply of gin being made and sent across the world from this site. Something Hampshire has to be proud of.