Bombay Sapphire Distillery ~ The Blonde B

29 July 2016

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

When the sun shines in Britain people head to the pub to enjoy a nice refreshing brewski.

I can't really blame them, with the sun shining and a beer (or iced Rose) in hand, it doesn't get much better for the British Summer.

This had been our Summer plan so far. The sun was an excuse to go to the pub on a Monday and when our friend Elliott had two days off mid-week we found another excuse to go on Tuesday and Wednesday too.

You see Elliott is a chef (a very good one!). He works all crazy hours, as anyone in hospitality does, but for this weekend he actually had a proper Saturday and Sunday off.

We lazed around in the sun drinking Watermelon Lime refreshes (recipe here), but little did the boys know I had something a little more sophisticated planned for the afternoon.

I had a arranged a little snooping of the Bombay Sapphire Distillery and with a promise of a Gin Cocktail at the end of it, they could hardly say no.

The Bombay Sapphire distillery at Laverstoke Mill is literally a stone throw away from us. What is even more shocking is that 25 million litres of Bombay Sapphire that is produced a year, all comes from Laverstoke Mill. Especially as I thought Bombay was American, but it turns out 60% of Bomaby Gin is exported to the US.

Yes, I know, my jaw dropped too.

So come with me on a little voyage of discovery. 

Your museum map doubles up as a nifty electronic pass which lets you guide yourself around the distillery.

It was a self-guided tour so all you had to do was scan your pass at the listening stations dotted around the distillery to listen to the history of Laverstoke and Bombay Sapphire.

Outside the sun was glorious with not a cloud in the sky, which made the beautiful glass house look even more spectacular than normal. 

Pretty much one of the coolest glass buildings I have seen, with the river Test running through it it truly is a natural beauty.  

The glass house is the green house showcasing all of the different botanicals (flavours/infusions/fragrances) that go into making gin.

Flavours from around the world, from humid temperatures to dry climates, goes into making Bombay Sapphire's distinguished taste.

At this point I should tell you about my dress.

But I don't want to palm you off!

It's mustard yellow, floaty and ever so cool. This version is the petite (as I am a midget) from Glamorous, found here, and they even do tall version here.

Black loafers are Mulberry, bought last year at their Outlet Mall in Shepton Mallet, similar ones here. here and here.

Bombay Sapphire is made with 10 different botanicals and is one of the founding flavours for gin all around the world. 

Citrus, juniper (the basis of gin), liquorice, almond, orris root, cassia (very much like cinnamon), coriander, cubeb, grains of paradise (gives it a gingery flavour) and angelica.

The botanicals room was a delight to the eyes and senses.

Then we got the only the only guided part of the tour by one of the resident Bombay Sapphire specialists.

We were ushered into the actual distilling room where precautions had to be taken as the pressure inside these rooms is extremely sensitive.

Anything electronic like phones and cameras are a big no no, as any sort of interaction could make the room blow up!

There is a glass viewing pane from the other side. Don't worry I didn't risk everyone's life for the sake of the blog.

These MASSIVE distilling units is where the magic happens. This is one of the distilling rooms where Bombay Sapphire is produced and sold to the world. 

Gin is actually a re-distillation of ethanol, i.e: spirit (basically vodka), which is then infused with juniper and many other botanicals.

Bombay Sapphire is unique in it's production. Most other gins boil their flavourings directly with the spirit which is ineffective as heat causes many to loose flavour. Whereas Bombay is infused with the vapour of the botanicals allowing the spirit to be cooled down with the flavours therefore infusing the alcohol with the classic Bombay hint. 

This careful production means Bombay gin is made in batches and has to be tested at the end of each day for quality control. Imagine having that role, an excuse to have a gin every day! But do we really need an excuse?

This carefully orchestrated distilling process was engineered by Thomas Dakin and later pioneered by his grand-daughter Mary Dakin, whom the distilling chambers are named after. 

As ever, behind every successful man is a GINius of a woman. 

At this stage of the tour, you are able to smell all of the different botanicals that go into making Bombay Sapphire. 

This was my favourite part of the tour. 

Juniper berries are by far the most gin-smelling of the botanicals and many of the others, like coriander or cinnamon, I was surprised even went in to gin!

But who was I to question the great Dakins?

Your map was equipped with a list of all different botanicals that could go into the production of gin.

The idea was to smell them all and then puncture 4-5 hole in the botanicals you like best which will then be analysed by a gin-expert to create your unique cocktail.

Then the part the boys had all been waiting for: cocktail time!

We marched up to the bar and placed our orders.

I couldn't resist snacking on some Salt & Vinegar crisps whilst we waited.

After all, they were Burts!

I can't think of anything better than a packet of salt & vinegar and a gin & tonic.

A particular indulgence of mine aboard any flight. Also enjoyed magnificently in the sun.

Finally our thirst was quenched by the exquisitely prepared gin cocktails.

The yellow one was Tom's, the Garden Game made with Bombay Sapphire, freshly squeeze lemon and pineapple, a pinch of tarragon and peach liquer served in a martini glass.

I had the Brambled a twist on the classic gin & tonic made with Bombay, lemon Fever-Tree tonic and Chamboard. a rich blackberry liquor (that also pairs well with champagne); and Elliott had the Positive Libations Bombay, squeeze of lemons, Martini Rosato Vermouth and a spoonful of strawberry jam all shaken and served in a jam jar.

I insisted on trying them all, naturally.

And I would still order the Brambled if asked to choose again. 

I mustn't forget to tell you about my new heart locket. I am obsessed with it. It is from Jewellery Box UK, do you remember them from the Bloggers Ball? They do some delightfully cute pieces which are very good quality and at affordable prices. 

Find my silver heart locket here.  

Cute bow ring here

There were a couple of negatives though, which I must disclose. As someone said something to me the other day which stuck in my mind: "being a blogger is great! You get free passes and a bunch of free stuff and all you have to do is say how awesome it is afterwards."

Unfortunately, I wish this were true. I don't like and wouldn't recommend something if it I didn't honestly like it. I always think before writing, would I recommend my friends or family?

I have had to turn down working with some brands as I just didn't believe in them as it is one of the hardest things to write something negative about something.

But the truth is best.

The electronic passes were not as nifty as they sound, they mostly didn't work at all of the listening stations which were a little stale and veering towards boring. The speaking was quiet and it was hard to concentrate if there were people listening to one nearby. It was especially hard to keep these two guys concentrated and listening to the history out of a tiny listening box.

The promise of a personalised gin cocktail was a bit far-fetched as the bartender pretty much just gave us once choice from a predetermined menu. Of course you can't expect the bartenders to create a new cocktail for every single visitor, but he didn't even pretend to encourage our enthusiasm or even suggest which cocktail would go best with our choice of botanicals. Just here is the list which one do you want? I couldn't quite hide my disappointment at this, as the concept sounds fantastic!

Saying that. the cocktails were delicious and staff most certainly knew what they were talking about, but be warned if you fancied a 2nd cocktail, they were quite pricey.

Overall, our outing to the Bombay Sapphire distillery was a success! Not only did we learn something new but we got out of the house, discovered something amazing in our local area and went away with a bunch of new cocktail recipes to try at home.

I would certainly go back and would certainly sign-up for one of the masterclass which you can book here.

(*Hint Hint*)

Have you ever been to the Bombay Sapphire distillery? What did you think?


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