Bombay Sapphire opens new home
Bombay Sapphire opens its new official home this week after transforming an historic site in southern England into a “state-of-the-art” distillery and visitor centre.
Having ceased its previous contract distillation agreement with G&J Greenall last year, Bombay Sapphire’s entire production now comes from this new base at Laverstoke Mill in Hampshire, with a visitor-friendly set up which will also allow it to connect more closely with the UK’s growing army of gin fans.
Featured in the Domesday Book of 1086, Laverstoke Mill’s more recent history saw it produce the paper used to make bank notes for England and the British Empire. Now the two hectare brown field site has been restored with the help of designer Thomas Heatherwick, who shot to fame for creating the Olympic cauldron at London 2012.
The 40 buildings on the site includes two glasshouses, one temperate and one tropical, where visitors can see the 10 botanicals used by Bombay Sapphire – juniper, lemon peel, grains of paradise, coriander, cubeb berries, orris root, almonds, cassia bark, liquorice, angelica – on display.
The venue also features a “Botanical Dry Room” and the “Vapour Infusion” stills created by 18th century distiller Thomas Dakin, whose recipe inspired the Bombay Sapphire style. After viewing the production process, visitors can try a cocktail at the Mill Bar, which sit on the banks of the River Test.
Commenting on the restoration project, Ben Farlow, global category director for Bombay Sapphire, which is owned by spirits group Bacardi, said: “We fully respect the importance of heritage and have made every effort over the last four years to ensure Laverstoke Mill is a place that is reflective of its past, and holds the fundamental principles of creativity, integrity and beauty at its centre.
“It is fantastic to witness the opening of Laverstoke Mill and show-off the incredible design and splendour of the site which we are proud to call our home as it provides the perfect setting to showcase an elegant brand as Bombay Sapphire.”
The brand’s master distiller Nik Fordham hailed the move as “the start of a new legacy for Bombay Sapphire”. He explained: “We are very proud of how we craft each and every bottle of Bombay Sapphire on site and look forward to sharing that passion and enthusiasm with the public.”
The move comes at a time when premium gin sales in the UK are proving particularly buoyant, with a recent surge in the craft sector. This in turn has led a number of major brand owners to tap into demand for a small scale, artisanal approach, as seen in the launch last year of Beefeater Burrough’s Reserve.