Since my first taste of gin about forty plus years ago I was immediately in love….well to be fair I think it took a couple of gins because a teenage palate unused to spirits took a while to acquire the taste. Never the less gin and tonic is my preferred or go to drink whether it be pre dinner or a Sunday afternoon. Back in the old days I mixed gin with lime but now only a slimline tonic will do. Last year I tried a diet cola in Saigon as I couldn’t source tonic but a Saigin as I called it didn’t quite hit the spot of The grey Traveller’s throat.
I digress ………….my recent visit to the Bombay Sapphire Distillery near Basingstoke was very refreshing both mentally and spiritually….. you gin drinkers will know what I mean when I say spiritually!
With a pre booked slot for a late Sunday morning myself and he who likes to think he is obeyed rocked up outside an old mill in a little village called Laverstoke in north Hampshire. This mill sitting on the chalky Test river once produced bank paper for the City but has recently been converted into a modern environmentally friendly visitor experience where you learn about the distilling of the gin, the botanicals needed to flavour it and finally saver a cocktail mixed to your own personal taste.
On arrival you are handed a map which allows you to operate the audio stations around the site and you are carefully guided through the giant botanical glasshouses, through the still room where you are told about its creation and finally through the dry room where by using your nose, the aroma map and the large jars of exotic smells you manufacture the recipe for a cocktail to suit your personal taste buds.
We loved dipping our noses deep into smells such as Grains of Paradise, coriander and liquorice and I ended up with a personal favourite of lemon peel, cubeb and almond which then meant the cocktail for me was Garden Game. To be fair I was game to try any gin cocktail and the Garden Game did not disappoint. He who likes to think he is obeyed had a Laverstoke which I equally enjoyed as we swapped sips of course!
The Mill Bar then serves your cocktail which you can enjoy outside by the river as we did on a sunny Sunday morning…..Cheers.