Distillery tours in London

Journey to the charming, cosmopolitan UK capital for an unforgettable gin discovery at an award-winning distillery.

For gin enthusiasts, there is nowhere better than London for a gin tasting experience. Home to the famous London Dry Gin variety, and the beating of heart in which this medicinal spirit was developed into a classic pub drink, London is the ultimate gin destination. From the old British pub favourite of G&T to more modern concoctions that include everything from elderflower to rhubarb, this city serves gin in every way you can imagine. With so much variety, you’ll be able to experience gins like you’ve never tasted before.

There are many dedicated gin bars around the city, so trying a variety of gins to suit your palate is easy, no matter which neighbourhood you are in. There’s also a great concentration of distilleries which are open to the public, giving gin connoisseurs and beginners alike a chance to learn more about Europe’s trendiest spirit.

Come on a gin tasting adventure with Wine Paths and explore some of the most fascinating destinations in and around the capital. With its charming shopping streets, dazzling nightlife and a long list of Michelin star restaurants, London offer discerning travellers endless luxury. And its spectacular historical landmarks and breathtaking architecture create the perfect backdrop for a gin tasting holiday to remember.

Overview of distilleries in London  

There are some fantastic gin distilleries in London, including Beefeater, Hayman’s Gin, Sipsmith, City of London Distillery, HALF HITCH, Bermondsey Distillery, Old Bakery Gin Distillery, East London Liquor Company, Bimber Distillery, Portobello Road Gin, and 58 Gin Ltd.

Head a little further outside of the capital for distilleries like the famous Bombay Sapphire Distillery in rural Hampshire, located inside the stunning Laverstoke Mill. Or craft gin maker Silent Pool Distillers set in the beautiful Surrey hills.

As well as having a high number of gin distilleries in (and around) the city, there are also some fantastic non-distillery gin tasting experiences such as The Ginstitute, which is a bespoke gin venue in Notting Hill.

Distilleries in London don’t just specialize in gin either, as there is also a long history of beer and pale ale brewing, with The Red Lion being the oldest in Britain. Vodka is another spirit that is commonly made in London, as are rum and whisky, with England’s whisky influences coming from Scotland and Ireland.

What’s great about visiting London distilleries like the East London Liquor Company is that you’ll get a chance to taste gin, vodka, rum and whisky in one visit. If you’re a gin purist, some of the best and oldest gins that you’ll want to try are Beefeater and Bombay Sapphire, both integral names that play a major part in London’s interesting gin history.

The history of distilleries in London

Gin distilleries were established in London in the early 18th Century after medicinal ‘genever’ was brought over from Dutch soil after the Thirty Years’ War. The spirit was considered to be effective for a number of illnesses, and could also have acted as a common painkiller.

From the Dutch genever, Londoners adapted recipes to create something that was more palatable and this was the start of London Dry, the variety of gin that is synonymous with the city. This new gin, brewed by city folk in search of better quality, was much purer than the medicinal genever that first landed in English waters. Instead, it was clean, smooth and didn’t need to be sweetened to make it pleasant on the palate.

For gin to be classified as London Dry, it had to be distilled to a completely neutral spirit of 96% ABV, and any flavours had to be added through distillation in presence of natural plant materials (instead of after, which is seen with other gin varieties).

The oldest distillery in London is Beefeater, dating back to 1829. And before the arrival of Beefeater, the act of distilling was often done in very small operations that took place in people’s homes. Many used turpentine to add flavour until a new column distillation method was established. This new method of distillation propelled gin to its height of popularity, and names like Beefeater led the gin revolution. Today, the Victorian stills are still in place at the Beefeater Distillery in Kennington and tours are available from Monday to Saturday.

Bombay Sapphire is another iconic name that dates back through the centuries. Its first distillery, which was established in Warrington, North West England, is one of the oldest distilleries to have been started outside of the capital. The recipe for Bombay Sapphire gin goes as far back at 1761, and today the distillery is located just an hour or so outside of London.

What happens on a distillery visit

Distillery tours with Wine Paths are designed to be fun and educational, and suitable for anyone who is passionate to learn more about the UK’s favourite spirit. We take an insightful approach to our tasting holidays and choose only the best distilleries to visit.

On a typical visit to a distillery, you will get a tour of the facilities, including a chance to look at the distillation rooms and see the stills in action.

At the end of your tour, you will usually get to enjoy a few tastings. These either take place in a dedicated bar area or a special mixology room where someone creates a cocktail of your choice.

The best distilleries to visit

A gin tasting holiday with Wine Paths is the perfect opportunity to try a variety of gins and to learn more about the craft of distilling. There are many smaller, independent distilleries and micro-distilleries in and around the capital, many of which offer interesting craft gins incorporating a wide and interesting range of flavours.

But when it comes to gin tasting, we always recommend trying at least one London Dry variety. This style of gin is made to a different standard, with no artificial ingredients and is flavoured only through distillation.

We arrange tours with one of the finest London Dry gin distilleries around, Bombay Sapphire. It’s located just over an hour outside of London in rural Hampshire, making it the perfect day trip for anyone wanting to escape the busy capital for some classic English countryside.

To find out more about gin tasting holidays, get more information from our local travel expert.


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