I don't actually like Gin; I hate the smell, I hate the oily mouthfeel, and I hate the taste. We bought a Gin Masterclass and a Tour for the five of us for my sister in law's birthday back in January, and the way the year panned out meant that this was the earliest we've been able to go.
The drive was lovely because we had a perfect November day. The Distillery site is amazing, it was the sort of place I'd like to work - just because the place was so wonderful.
We were early, so we went to the cafe - which is housed in a really well-done conversion of a double decker bus. The coffee was excellent, a great start.
The Masterclass started at 11.00, which was a ridiculously early time to be drinking gin. The class was chokka block. I didn't count the number of participants, but every station in the well equipped room was taken. 30 people or so I'd guess.
A tasting of the gin, and an intro into the botanicals used in Bombay Sapphire. BS is the only gin to have all the botanicals entirely vapour infused (rather than being steeped in the gin itself, or a combination of the 2).
The tasting of the nearly neat drink confirmed to me that I'm definitely not a gin person. The host demonstrated the first cocktail, the house special, The Laverstoke. Lime juice, BottleGreen Elderflower cordial, Martini Bianco vermouth, Bombay Sapphire. masses of ice, ginger ale, mint and ginger garnish, all in an oversized globe shaped glass. We then made it, and it was divine.
More chat. Demos and discussions of other gin based cocktails, and then our second and final cocktail. This was a make-along of a something or other 75 and was made in a Boston shaker. I'm comfortable using that. The shaken cocktail was then added to prosecco. It was OK, but not great - I'm not a gin drinker, so no surprise. I didn't drink mine.
The Masterclass lasted about an hour, and then we did our tour.We did the self guided tour, which actually included a guided part anyway, and we spent about an hour and a half there. As part of this, we had a smell test. You get to smell variations of the 10 botanicals that go into flavouring the gin, and you pick your favourite 3-6 smells. This then shows you which cocktails you might like, and you get a cocktail at the bar. You can choose what you want, you can get advice from the barmam. Non drinkers have a non alcoholic cocktail, and get to pick up a take-home cocktail in the shop.
We were surprised at the similarities and the differences in our tastes. We all had something different, and we all tried each other's drinks.
We finished by going in to the shop. DH and I ended up buying a bottle of East Bombay Sapphire which, in the UK, is only available in that shop. It's Bombay Sapphire with 2 extra botanicals (lemon grass and pepper). I also bought 2 of the bowl glasses. I don't really like branded glasses, but I thought these "would do" until I found something suitable. I also bought a bottle each of Martini Rosso and Martini Bianco, so that I could make The Laverstoke and The Laverstoke Winter at home.
DB1 bought some glasses. DB2/SIL bought a hamper of Bombay Sapphire stuff, which was a bit of a bargain.
We left just before 3pm, and were all very happy with it.
I'm going to try Hendricks next. I understand that has cucumber as one of its botanicals, and I love cucumber.