So, I went to a Ginnery …

… and I drank a Cucumelon.  That’s a cocktail comprising of Melon liqueur, Schweppes cucumber tonic, Bombay Sapphire, garnished with pink grapefruit. I was also tempted by the Fino (Bombay Sapphire, Manzanilla dry sherry, fresh lemon wedges & mint leaves with Fever-Tree sicilian Lemonade) and by the Pink Pepper Phizz (Star of Bombay, pink grapefruit juice, Bottlegreen plump raspberry cordial, Martini Prosecco & a pinch of pink peppercorns).

For my birthday this year, Himself suggested we go on a distillery tour. Whilst the proper name is a distillery, doesn’t that sound dull and soulless? So for me, a ginnery it will ever be. Gin is hugely popular over here with new brands springing up seemingly every month.  From what I understand, gin is relatively easy to make when compared with most alcoholic beverages and, the current enthusiasm for all things artisinal food and drink, has encouraged a number of people to give it a go. However, we were visiting one of the more established brands, which was in the forefront of gin’s resurgence in popularity, Bombay Sapphire.

Did you, I wonder, think “what on earth could turn a distillery into an interesting visitor experience?” for I’ll admit I did, but well, it’s gin …


The experience kicks of with the history of the location itself – a mill has been on the site since before we started counting years in four figures, most recently a paper mill producing paper of such high quality that it was used for the printing of currency. A rather extraordinary glasshouse was designed and built to house living examples of some of the botanicals which go into making Bombay Sapphire the gin-drinking experience that it is.

But their primary innovation was the Aroma Map Room …

Right next door to the big copper pots where we’ll get the talk about how gin is made is a rather unassuming room containing four tables. You’re invited to walk around the tables, sniffing various boticanical ingredients and marking your preferences onto a colourful little card. You could also grind some of the raw ingredients to enhance the aroma experience, but I especially liked the display of plants in victorian style glass domes.

If you paid proper attention to the instructions you were given along with the card (from which you may gather that I did not), your preferences would indicate which of the cocktails from the one-free-cocktail-included-in-the-price menu would be best suited to your taste.

For a photographer, it provided pleasing subjects as well as a few challenges (the etched brass & blue glass were especially tricky). For a gin drinker, the cocktails were a winner, and the location was perfect for a sunny day – alongside a clear fast flowing stream running through the old mill buildings. I didn’t ask whether one could purchase additional cocktails, although there was no evidence of other visitors doing so. If one could, I imagine it would be a rather tempting venue for a sunny afternoon’s gin imbibing and maybe they’re not keen on encouraging excessive loitering …

I’ll close with a selection of glasses, each winners of the Bombay Sapphire Designer Glass Competition which ran during the 1990s, and included entries from no lesser names than Swarovski and Tom Dixon. I’m afraid I was remiss in not noting the designers of these which caught my eye …


© Debra Carey, 2018



4 thoughts on “So, I went to a Ginnery …

Add yours

  1. Oddly enough I’ve been to a ginnery, too. Decades ago we toured a distillery and I was fascinated by the juniper berries and orange peel that went into the making. I hate gin, but if I did like it I’m sure I’d be smitten with one of those cocktails you featured. Maybe the one with Prosecco and pink peppercorns…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve had a love – hate – love relationship with gin. It was the first drink I got room swaying drunk on and I didn’t drink it again till very recently. I hate to admit to having been swayed by it’s new found trendiness, but … well, it happens and with age I’ve discovered that it’s not just gin that can cause that swaying room feeling 😛

    I really loved the “botanicals” too, especially some of the more unusual ones. Although why we can’t just call them ingredients I don’t know …

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not a Gin fan (nor Tonic in any form) but I’m glad you had a great time. The glasses were interesting, but the one on the right looks like it would hurt to hold…not what I’d envision for enjoying a beverage.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There were some odd designs Stu and spot on about that particular design being more at home in one of those – ahem – places where pain is pleasure 😉

    If you don’t like tonic, what do you do in malaria-laden areas?


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