Golden Cap Association (West Dorset)

a local association of the National Trust

Golden Cap Association (West Dorset)

a local association of the National Trust

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50 Gin and Tonics Please

On the same day in May as the visit to the Silk Mill we continued up the road for a few miles to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery, also housed in a mill beside the River Test. They have transformed a 300 year old paper Mill with over 1000 years of history within a Conservation Area and a Site of Special Scientific Interest and renovated the Laverstoke Mill into a sustainable distillery that showcases the natural beauty and industrial heritage of the site. Unfortunately the inclement weather meant that we couldn't take advantage of the beautiful setting or enjoy watching the wildlife in its natural habitat.

However we received a warm welcome at reception and after a short talk dispersed to make our own way around the buildings ending up with a tour of the distillery itself. Because of the alcoholic fumes inside we weren't able to take photos except through a window, mobiles and other electronic equipment also had to be turned off for fear of igniting a spark and blowing-up us and the stills.

After the tour we could sniff the botanicals which make up the flavour of the gin. We could be told which botanicals are used but not the actual recipe which is an extremely closely guarded secret with only two members of staff knowing its precise content. We were invited to choose between 3 and 5 of our favourite smells which would be later made into a complimentary cocktail - either with or without gin. The distillery is careful to ensure that drivers are able to have an alcohol-free cocktail but are given a bag containing a miniature gin and tonic to take home to drink later.

There were a lot of stairs to climb and inside the distillery it was humid but it isn't because they want to keep their visitors comfortable but is the process by which the gin is distilled. A wonderful place to visit on a cold midwinter day.

The sun came out just as we were returning to the coach for our homeward journey but it hadn't spoilt a full and fascinating couple of visits.

Photos by V Smith and C Senior

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