What to Expect From Your Gin Distillery Tour

What to Expect From Your Gin Distillery Tour

Gin distilleries are popping up all over the shop. In the UK alone, almost 50 distilleries have opened in the past year (a rise of nearly a fifth!), bringing the total to more than 270. And while their primary focus is making a tasty tipple, it seems that now, the customer wants an experience to go with it.

Distillery tours, workshops and tasting experiences are all the rage, and a great way to learn about - and more importantly, sample - a Gin in its heartland. Provenance plays such an important part of the story for many distillers; from sourcing botanicals to using local water, local methods of production to being the first, only, different producer in the region. So visiting the place where your Gin is made gives you a more immersive experience; a better understanding of the how, what, when and why that led to its existence.

I'm a big believer in learning about my Gins when I drink them (where are they from, what's in them, who made them and how?) and the best place to get that knowledge is first-hand; straight from the horse's mouth.

This writer has embarked on a number of distillery tours recently, including Sipsmith, the first copper pot distillery to open in London in almost 200 years, and Pickering's, which is based in an arts and events centre in Edinburgh.

For those who've never done a Gin distillery tour, here are my top tips for making the most of it.

1. You will learn a lot.

About Gin, about Gin production, about botanicals and machinery and history. But you will also drink (and, if you're lucky and get a good tour guide, that might be a lot, too). So don't turn up half cut. Your guide won't thank you and we promise you'll get more out of a Gin tasting when you can remember it.

3. You’ll be asked to ‘nose’ the Gin before tasting it.

A brilliant tour guide at Sipsmith gave me a top tip; the first smell will have strong alcohol fumes, so give the liquid in the glass a short sharp blow, and smell again. By blowing those fumes away, you’ll find it easier to smell the botanicals.

4. Be prepared to taste Gin neat.

For some, that’s no big deal, but for others, that's a horrifying thought. But there’s good reasoning behind it; when you try something neat you're getting the purest form of it.

You get the flavours and smells as they were intended. Plus, if it's a decent Gin, you won't get that nasty burning experience on your tongue and the back of your throat. If you do, seek out better Gin, immediately.

5. The tasting will come at the end (they always do!)...

...so be prepared to learn first, drink later. If you're lucky, the distillery will be attached to a bar, like the Pickering’s Distillery, which pumps Gin straight from the still to The Royal Dick bar next door.

Gin distillers are a friendly bunch, so seek out your favourite tipple, book in a visit, and transform yourself into a Gin geek. Before that, learn more about how Gin is made! Let us know in the comments if you’ve visited any distilleries recently.

Cover Photo: City of London Distillery
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