Hidden deep in the rolling Hampshire countryside, among the picture-perfect flint and thatch cottages of Whitchurch, you’ll find Laverstock Mill. With a history dating back to the Domesday book, this was once a working mill making the paper for bank notes, but now, this complex of beautiful red-brick Grade II listed buildings is home to Bombay Sapphire.
This is the first distillery of their own, producing 100% of Bombay Sapphire that goes around the world, and they’ve really put their stamp on things. Most striking of all are the two glass houses (one Mediterranean and one tropical), designed by Thomas Heatherwick and his team, which dip their toes in the crystal clear waters of the River Test running through the site, and echo the elegant arch of the historic Dakin stills. Their purpose is more than decorative however, they house examples of all 10 botanicals that are present in Bombay Sapphire. Wander across the courtyard from the glass houses, and you can really immerse yourself in the botanical room, where you’re encouraged to touch, smell and taste the carefully-sourced botanicals, before going through to the still room and seeing the process in action.
It’s a wonderfully relaxing place, free from the noise you may expect of a working distillery. You’re free to explore Laverstock Mill at your own pace, and there are ‘whispering benches’ dotted around to give you a greater insight into Bombay Sapphire, but if you prefer, you can book onto a guided tour. They’ve also recently launched the ‘Discovery Series’ of experiences at the distillery, which include the Laverstoke Mill Heritage Experience, for those intrigued by the mill’s colourful history, and the Horticultural Experience, an in-depth look at the ecostystem surrounding the distillery and the botanicals used within the gin, hosted by the horticulturalist Chris Cotterrel. For the full behind-the-scenes experience, though, bag yourself a place on the Master Distiller Experience, an opportunity to explore Laverstoke Mill with Nik Fordham, who overseas all of the production and is responsible for ensuring the same quality in every bottle. Nik will guide you through the botanical room before taking you into the still houses, not open to the general public. To round it off, Senior brand ambassador Sam Carter will be on hand to talk you through the history of gin and cocktail culture before giving you a hands-on cocktail masterclass.
On Friday 24th and Wednesday 29th July, they will also be running the Ultimate Gin & Tonic Discovery Experience, an evening with Sam Carter and winner of Bombay Sapphire’s UK’s Most Imaginative Bartender, Dan Berger. During the evening you will be shown round the distillery and learn how to create imaginative G&T twists to arm you for summer.