Looking for an activity to treat your favourite gin lover? Here our the top gin experiences in the UK, from gin tasting experiences to gin distillery tours and even hotels with a gin theme!
Pick your own botanicals
Kinloch Lodge, a luxurious but homely hotel on the shores of Skye’s Loch na Dal, is run with precision by the Macdonlad family (latterly with the help of chef-director Marcelo Tully). With that shoreline in front and nothing but dense forest behind, the hotel is a forager’s paradise, the ideal base from which to stride out in search of botanicals. With help from the Isle of Skye Distillers, Kinloch Lodge now offers guests the opportunity to turn their treasure into homemade gin. The experience includes three nights at the hotel (bedrooms come with water or mountain views and are decorated in the colours of the local landscapes), a five-course welcome dinner, a foraging session with Kinloch’s ghillie and a three-hour gin-making class, with a bottle of homemade gin to take away. Plus, on the last night you’ll feast on a seven-course tasting menu, prepared by Tully.
Sip, sleep, repeat
Stretching across nearly 20,000 acres of prime Wiltshire, Berkshire and Hampshire land, the Ramsbury Estate aspires to have no negative impact on its surroundings. That means making single-estate gin (and vodka) using their own wheat and barley, water from a private, chalk-filtered source, and home-grown quince for a signature flavour. As well as the distillery, there’s an on-site smokehouse (used to cold-smoke wild venison and chalk-stream trout) and a 300-year-old coaching inn, The Bell, where the kitchen serves Ramsbury meat, fish (try the Ramsbury gin-cured salmon), vegetables, fruit and even estate-produced honey. Book one of the nine cossetting bedrooms above the inn and you can take your time over a double Ramsbury gin; a grassy, floral spirit made ever-so-slightly spicy with a touch of cinnamon.
Gin Lover’s Retreat
Rugged coastlines, unspoilt beaches and the chance to spot rare corncrakes await as you disembark the ferry at the remote Hebridean island of Colonsay, home to the Wild Thyme Spirits distillery. Book the latter’s Gin Lover’s Retreat and you can settle in for a full-board, weekend stay in one of two comfortable double bedrooms (there’s also a shared lounge complete with wood-burning stove, jigsaws and board games).
Make the most of Wild Thyme’s gin collection (200 bottles and counting, as well as their own Colonsay Gin, produced on the island), enjoy pre-dinner gin cocktails, a gin tasting and the chance to explore the island’s wild interior.
Want to try the best pink gins?
- Pinot noir gin
- Pink grapefruit gin
- Rhuabrb gin
Make your own gin
More and more distilleries are setting up their own ‘gin schools’ where visitors can learn how to distil their own bespoke spirit. One such spot is Spirit of Masham, in Yorkshire, which offers the chance to take over one of its copper stills and choose from 100 different botanicals to blend your own take on a London dry gin. Head distiller Jake Wilson is on hand to offer advice on ingredients, and at the end of the three-hour experience you’ll have a 70cl bottle to take home.
You’ll also get a tour of the distillery and three gin-based drinks. In Fife, Darnley’s Gin School at Kingsbarn Distillery offers a similar package, allowing visitors to distil their own bespoke botanical recipe at one of its stills, while down in Devon Salcombe Distilling Co will help you craft a bespoke blend before heading over to the distillery’s waterside bar to taste the final result and play around with different garnishes and tonics.
Distill your own gin in London
The Gin Works, King’s Cross
As well as funky boutiques, restaurants and wine bars, the revitalised King’s Cross area is now home to its own gin distillery.
In 2017, Kentish winery Chapel Down launched its own range of spirits made using left-over grape skins from the wine-making process. This foray into a new category blossomed into the Gin Works, a sleek, expansive London hub for the brand which opened earlier this year. Located next to Regent’s Canal, it comes with two bars, a restaurant and a 150-litre copper still called Helga, which produces seasonal gins for the site.
The Gin Works Experience is a 90-minute session where guests learn about the history and distillation of the spirit before infusing their own batch of gin with a bespoke blend of botanicals in a tiny copper still. Chapel Down’s friendly distillation team are on hand to provide close guidance on which botanicals to choose and how to use the still, as well as providing drinks – from G&Ts to chilled sparkling bacchus wine – throughout. At the end of the session you’ll get to take home a 50cl bottle of your own personal blend.
Don’t leave without a visit to one of the bars to try Chapel Down’s other offerings, from the acclaimed bacchus and pinot noir gins (the latter a winner in our pink gin taste test) to the winery’s Curious range of beers. Our top tip? Take an ice-cold glass of their silky chardonnay vodka (which has subtle cream soda notes) out on to one of the terraces and enjoy the waterside views.
The Distillery, Notting Hill
For an urban gin experience make a beeline for 186 Portobello Road in West London, home to The Distillery (makers of the acclaimed Portobello Road Gin) – and its lodgings, bar and gin school. At the distillery’s ‘Ginstitute’, a ‘ginstructor’ will give you a quick recap on gin’s sordid history before taking you to the distillery’s blending rooms, where you’ll combine gin cocktails with blending your own bespoke batch of the juniper stuff to take home (as well as a bottle of Portobello Road gin).
Make sure you also visit The Resting Room bar, and check out the Distillery’s eclectic range of house spirits, which range from butter gin to asparagus vodka. If you’re feeling too well lubricated to head home, book a stay in one of the distillery’s stylish bedrooms; these come with choice views of Portobello Road, Rough Trade-curated vinyl playlists on the record player and sharing martinis.
There are several hotels across the UK that offer more than your average lodgings where gin-lovers are concerned, whether it’s their own bespoke brand or extensively stocked gin bars. Tucked between woods and sea on the Isle of Mull, Tiroran House is a country hotel that produces its own Whitetail Gin; made with foraged heather and sea kelp, it’s named after the white-tailed eagles that nest nearby. Buy it in the hotel’s shop-café to take away, or enjoy it as an aperitif before tucking into the likes of Inverlussa mussels and fillet of Highland longhorn beef at the hotel’s restaurant.
Down south, in Oxfordshire, Woodstock’s The Feathers hotel is a charmingly rambling sort of place with colourful interiors and a gin bar stocked with 400 bottles (do explore its roster of gin flights, which take you through different flavour profiles). Even more impressive is the gin bar at Holborn Dining Room, part of the Rosewood London hotel; it’s stocked with 500 gins, 30 tonics and 14,000 possible G&T pairings to choose from.
Finally, if you’re in Carmathenshire head to Ginhaus Deli in postcard-ready Llandeilo; as the name suggests it stocks some 240 gins including Welsh options, plus locally made Coaltown Coffee, cheese and charcuterie.
Visit Bombay Sapphire Distillery in the English countryside
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.
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.
Visit a gin distillery in London
Plenty of London’s gin distilleries have opened their doors for gin fans to visit, so take a tour, try the gins and even make your own to take home with you…
Words by Hannah Guinness