Nine of the best gin distillery toursBy Lauren Eads
There’s no doubting that gin is the spirit of the moment, with distillers falling over themselves to release fresh craft expressions to keep up with growing demand.
Their investment is well placed, with the value of gin exports from the UK rising by 37% since 2010 to £394 million following a stratospheric “revival” of the spirit.
The UK is now the world’s biggest exporter of the spirit, with the number of UK-based gin brands doubling since 2010 from 31 to 73.
As the spirit gains prominence, so too have the distilleries at which it is made, with producers keen to emulate the success of the Scotch trade.
Much like Scotland’s Speyside whisky trail, Liz Truss, the UK secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, has called on the drinks industry to create a London Gin distillery trail to attract more tourists to the capital. While a London gin trail may not be a million miles away, the UK is full of gin distilleries worth paying a visit to.
From low-key independent operations of large-scale producers and stunning glasshouses, the world of gin is increasing its cultural cachet as distilleries fling open their doors to eager imbibers.
Click through for a look at some of the best gin distillery tours on offer in the UK…
Chase Distillery, Herefordshire
Chase Distillery was once known primarily for its vodka, however it’s long since diversified its range producing top-notch gin under the Williams name. Set within rolling countryside, its single-estate distillery in Herefordshire, just four miles out of Hereford, is perhaps one of the most picturesque of UK distilleries. The team is now offering tours of its facilities giving a behind-the-scenes look at its production process. Guests can learn about mashing, fermenting and distilling before taking part in a tutored tasting at the Chase Bar.
Click here for more information on the available tour packages.
Rosemaund Farm, Hereford, HR1 3PG
City of London Distillery, London
The City of London Distillery – COLD for short – opened in 2012 and produces a range of gins including its Square Mile gin, City of London Dry Gin and City of London Sloe Gin. Its COLD bar is open Monday to Friday from 12 to 11pm, and on Saturdays from 4pm to 11pm. The speakeasy-style bar overlooks the copper stills of the distillery, with a “faint aroma of gin vapour” said to enhance the experience.
Click here for more information on its distillery tours and gin tasting experiences.
22 Bride Lane, London EC4Y 8DT, UK
East London Liquor Co., Bow, London
East London Liquor Company is a distillery that produces and imports a range of quality handcrafted spirits including gin, vodka, rum and whisky. Located in one of Bow’s old glue factory in Bow Wharf, the distillery’s doors are aways open with visitors invited to prop up at its bar and peruse its bottle shop.
The distillery also offers tours via Virgin Experience Days.
Unit GF1, 221 Grove Rd, London E3 5SN
Beefeater Home of Gin, Kennington, London
Billed as London’s “oldest distillery”, Beefeater’s Home of Gin distillery experience opened in 2013.
Beefeater Gin has been made in London for over 150 years, making this distillery a unique place to learn about the capital’s gin history. Located in its Kennington Distillery, guests can explore the distillery by following a self-guided tour, along the way wandering through a replica of a Hogarthian street, bringing to life the days of 18th century gin-drinking. The tour finishes with a complimentary G&T in its bar.
20 Montford Place, Kennington, London, SE11 5DE.
Penderyn Distillery, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales
Known for its single malt Welsh Whisky, the distillery launched its Brecon Gin in 2007. Awarded a gold medal in the International Wines & Spirits Competition 2011, Brecon Gin is distilled using botanicals from the four corners water sourced from the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Home to a visitor centre, the distillery hosts tours and masterclasses and has been dubbed as “one of the most popular things to do in South Wales”.
Pontpren, Penderyn, Rhondda Cynon Taff CF44 0SX, UK
Sipsmith, Chiswick, London
One of the first craft distillers to catch on to the craft gin boom, Sipsmith produces a range of gins from its classic London Dry Gin to its V.J.O.P (a very Junipery over proof gin). Innovation and tapping into emerging trends has been the key to Sipsmith’s success.
The distillery operates a number of popular week night tours and tastings, as well as its Sipsmith Gin Palace Extravaganza. This sees guests partake in a guided tour of its distillery and then be ferried to the nearby Princess Victoria for a three-course “botanical gastronomica” – tots and a tutored tasting included.
83 Cranbrook Road, Chiswick, London, W4 2LJ
Plymouth Gin, Black Friars Distillery, Plymouth
Plymouth Gin’s Black Friars distillery was originally a monastery and dates back to the early 1400s. Its medieval Refectory Room has a roof that was built in 1431, making it the oldest building in Plymouth. Black Friars meanwhile is the UK’s oldest working gin distillery with records of a “mault-house” on the premises going back to 1697.
Its tour takes 40-minutes and gives guests a tour of its history and an introduction on how Plymouth Gin is made. At the end of every tour visitors can buy souvenirs and choose between a free miniature of Plymouth Gin or a Plymouth Gin & Tonic in the distillery’s bar.
Black Friars Distillery, 60 Southside Street, The Barbican, Plymouth PL1 2LQ
The Cotswold Distillery, Warwickshire
One of the UK’s newest distilleries, the Cotswold Distillery opened in 2014 and was founded by New Yorker Daniel Szor, a former hedge fund manager who now lives near Chipping Norton. While the distillery is aiming to join a growing band of English whisky producers, its initial commercial focus has been gin. It’s flagship Cotswold Gin features a range of “Cotswold botanicals” such as lavender and bay leaf.
Nestled in the Warwickshire countryside, the Cotswold Distillery offers daily tours which run at 11am and 2pm and must be booked in advance.
The Cotswolds Distillery, Phillip’s Field, Whichford Road, Stourton, Shipston-on-Stour, CV36 5HG
Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke, Hampshire
Perhaps one of the most stunning UK distilleries, Bombay Sapphire transformed Laverstoke Mill – a 300-year-old paper Mill in Hapshire – into a spectacular conservation area with the purpose of showcasing ten exotic botanicals that go into every drop of Bombay Sapphire. The botanicals can be viewed in their natural state in its stunning glasshouses designed by Heatherwick Studio.
Explore the distillery as part of a self-guided tour, discover its unique “vapour infusion” distillation. Every guest receives a drink as part of the tour in its Mill Bar.
Laverstoke Mill, London Road, Laverstoke, Whitchurch, Hampshire, RG28 7NR