We all love drinking gin, but what if you could learn all about your favourite drink in the very place it all started? Yeah, that’s right, Landan town.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride for the industry since the very beGINning, but the glorious spirit is making a strong resurgence, and, somewhat surprisingly, there’s actually plenty of distilleries to explore in this neck of the woods. Some are right in the heart of the city, others are, admittedly, a train ride away, but they’re all worth a visit (and, if nothing else, you know you’re guaranteed a damn good G&T).
1. Sipsmith, Chiswick
Sipsmith’s distillery was the first copper pot distillery in London for nearly two hundred years. Explore the beautiful Chiswick space and meet their faithful copper stills; Prudence, Patience and Constance. Opt for a weeknight tour for £25, or join the Sipsmith Sipper Club and end your night at Charlotte’s Bistro just around the corner.
83 Cranbrook Road, Chiswick, near Turnham Green station, W4 2LJ
2. City of London Distillery, Blackfriars
Amazingly, this microdistillery is right in the heart of the city (hence City of London Distillery, we suppose). It’s open for gin lovers to admire their beautiful copper stills (Jennifer, Clarissa and Elizabeth), learn all about their gin making techniques and discover the rich history of the juniper juice. The tour will end with a cheeky gin tasting so you’ll leave feeling a whole lot more gintelligent… and perhaps a little tipsy. There are various different experiences to be had at the City of London Distillery. Browse and book here.
22-24 Bride Lane, near City Thameslink or Blackfriars stations, EC4Y 8DT
3. Silent Pool, Surrey
Okay so this is technically in Surrey, but it’s worth the journey for the beautiful scenery. They’ll tell you all about what makes Silent Pool so special, and finish you off with a tasting of their full range of gins and gin-based fruit cordials. The best way to get there is to hop on a 30 minute train to Guildford and then jump in an Uber (it might not be London, but they’ve still got Uber). Tours run on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm, Saturdays at 11.30am, 2pm and 4pm and Sundays at 12pm and 2pm. Secure a spot here.
Shere Road, Albury, Surrey, GU5 9BW
4. Portobello Road, Notting Hill
5 years ago, nestled above a 19th century drinking den on the world famous Portobello Road, four pals decided that, after many years of collecting, drinking and loving gin, they would open The Ginstitute, and they installed a 30L copper pot still called Copernicus the Second. Now, just down the road, they’ve opened a gin hotel. Yeah, that’s right. We’re talking 4 floors dedicated entirely to gin; starting from the basement fitted with a 400 litre gin still, to the top floor with a private dining space and 3 boutique bedrooms overlooking the well-known Portobello Road Market.
186 Portobello Road, W11 1LA
5. East London Liquor Company, Bow Wharf
The East London Liquor Company’s heart doesn’t just belong to gin — they also produce some wonderfully handcrafted spirits, including vodka, rum and whisky. However you can grab yourself a ticket to one of their Spirit of Gin tours and tastings, and discover the spirit’s history; from its dark, ruinous past right up to its astonishing revival. Housed in an old glue factory, The Spirit of Gin Tour and Tasting runs on Friday and Saturday afternoons, and lasts approximately 1 ½ hours. Get your tickets here.
Unit GF1, Bow Wharf, 221 Grove Road, E3 5SN
6. Highwayman Gin, Kentish Town
Highwayman Gin is a true small-batch London gin, made from a relatively miniature 16-litre still behind a bar in Kentish Town. For that reason, a trip to their distillery is likely to be a little different from the others. Ladies & Gents is a old bog turned boozer, and it’s a pretty good place to spend a penny (or a couple dozen quid). It’s kept the same luminous sign, but you’ll find a very different place at the bottom of those steps than you would have once before. They only make a mere 12 bottles a day, making it a true craft gin.
2 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, NW5 1NR
7. Jensen’s Gin, Bermondsey
Jensen’s gin prides itself on being anything but fancy. They only use traditional gin botanicals and it’s distilled in very small batches, all within a converted railway arch in Bermondsey. Arrange a tour via the contact form on their website, or visit on a market day (Saturday 10-4pm or Sunday 11-4pm) for tastings and a coupla G&Ts.
55 Stanworth Street, Bermondsey, SE1 3NY
8. Beefeater Distillery, Kennington
Perhaps the most well-known on this list, Beefeater Gin is closely intertwined with London’s history. Housed in a beautiful Edwardian building, their distillery features original Victorian pot stills and a botanical room where all of the fresh ingredients are kept. Take yourself on a self-guided tour and discover how Beefeater Gin became such a London icon. Or treat yourself to an exclusive VIP experience, including tastings, competitions and G&Ts. Book here.
20 Montford Place, Kennington (near Oval or Vauxhall stations), SE11 5DE
9. Half Hitch Gin, Camden
Believe it or not, Camden used to be the heart of London’s gin distilling. An express train used to export gin daily, all around the world. Nowadays, this is a little-known fact, but Half Hitch are looking to unearth this and put Camden back on the gin map. If you head to their micro-distillery in Camden Market and book onto one of their bespoke gin making classes, the Half Hitch team will teach you all there is to know about the juniper juice, and send you home with 100ml of your very own gin creation, as well as 100ml of Half Hitch. (Is that so we can take it in our hand luggage on a plane? We like the way you think, Half Hitch). You can even bring along your own botanicals, and you can be as adventurous as you like. Get your tickets here.
53 Camden Lock Place, NW1
10. Bombay Sapphire, Hampshire
It may not be in London, but it is on London Road, so that’s got to count for something, right?
If you fancy a trip further afield, Bombay Sapphire’s distillery is as beautiful as they come. Situated within a Conservation Area and Site of Special Scientific Interest (ooh er), this distillery is well worth the 2 hour trip from London. Book onto a guided or self-guided experience, or get involved in a Gin Cocktail Masterclass. Book here.
Laverstoke Mill, London Road, Whitchurch, RG28 7NR
In the meantime, while you’re planning your next gin adventure, why not read up on some of our favourite gin facts?
[Feature image: Paul via Flickr]