I’ve been quite honoured recently. The brand new Bombay Sapphire distillery, located at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, opened its doors at the start of October, but I, alongside other distinguished publications, had the opportunity to be guided around by the team on site and see the unique set up that Bombay Sapphire have been working on for the last few years.
Many of you have experienced Bombay Sapphire in some shape or form, with myself personally using the brand within my work over the last few years. But to truly appreciate the brand and its history, Laverstoke Mill holds the key, with heritage and modern times combining subtly to create an impressive visitor attraction that can rival some of the best the UK has to offer. The former corn mill that dates back to 903 AD and is marked in the Domesday Book of 1086, has been transformed into an interactive tour that explains the intricate creation of Bombay Sapphire from grain to glass. But the idea and concept is seen as more leisure based as you are encouraged to relax and explore at your own pace.
The first idea is to unwind around the River Test which runs straight through the distillery. On a dry day you can enjoy a gin and tonic, Bombay style of course, sat overlooking the natural course of the river and historic buildings that bank it. Indeed, learn how the buildings started within the Heritage Room with many historic images and publications that show how Laverstoke grew over the years. Following this, the impressive Glasshouses (created by Thomas Heatherwick, the gentleman behind the London 2012 Olympic cauldron), one holding the tropical botanicals, the other the Mediterranean that Bombay Sapphire use, is sure to encourage even the novice of botanists to appreciate the beauty of each as you see in full bloom the likes of Grains of Paradise, almonds, angelica and the all important juniper berry.
The Botanical Dry Room dives into each ingredient more closely and involves a mix of sensory experiments and challenges to truly understand why each ingredient was chosen and has stood the test of time. The scale of the production can be summed up within the Dakin Still House (named after founder Thomas Dakin) where you can learn about the unique vapour infusion distillation process that Bombay Sapphire utilise. To finish, you come full circle and experience not only the history of Bombay Sapphire, but gin in general as the Gin Academy shows off a range of glassware, bottling’s and a comprehensive timeline of the important milestones that the brand has contributed to the gin category.
The distillery experience really dives into not only Bombay Sapphire, but gin in general as it looks to de-mystify the category to all levels of drinkers. Its unique glasshouses are a sight to see, and make you truly appreciate the botanicals within the gin, something you easily gloss over at other distilleries.
If you are lucky, you may meet and enjoy a cocktail by Sam Carter, Bombay Sapphire Senior Ambassador. When I visited, two specially created cocktails to celebrate the move from Warrington (their original home), down to Hampshire were offered –
Balloon or large wine
50 ml Bombay Sapphire
15 ml Martini Extra Dry (autumn season), Rosso (winter), Bianco (spring), Rosato (summer)
15 ml Bottlegreen elderflower cordial
100 ml Fever Tree ginger ale
Pour the Bombay Sapphire, vermouth and elderflower cordial into a balloon glass. Stir with a bar spoon, then squeeze and drop a fresh lime wedge in. Add cubed ice and stir. Pour ginger ale in and gently stir. Garnish with second squeezed lime, two slithers of fresh ginger slices and a sprig of mint, grouped together on one side of the glass.
as well as,
Tumbler or Martini
50 ml Bombay Sapphire
25 ml Fresh Pink Grapefruit juice
15 ml Vanilla seed sugar syrup
Squeeze the fresh pink grapefruit juice into a cocktail shaker. Pour in the Bombay Sapphire and vanilla syrup and add cubed ice. Shake hard and fine strain into chilled tumbler or Martini glass. Garnish with grapefruit twist or wedge.
Personally, get yourself down there. Words and photos do not do this venue justice, it’s just quite simply a fantastic idea to really open up not only a brand, but a category in ways that get everyone involved.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.