Throughout the year we celebrate a variety of national days… From Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, to other less commonly celebrated days, such as Star Wars Day on May the 4 (be with you…). These days provide us with a great opportunity to bring friends, family and loved ones together in celebrating something important.
If you are a gin lover, there’s one day in this year’s events calendar that you’re not going to want to miss… Get your diary at the ready, for on Saturday 8 June the world celebrates that famous juniper spirit. That’s right, World Gin Day is nearly here and Winchester is getting ready to celebrate in style.
Over the past ten years, the taste buds of the nation have gravitated further towards gin and gin cocktails. The gin market is booming, and it’s no wonder. The creativity of gin distillation is snowballing as gin makers continue to wow us with new flavourful blends including rhubarb, elderflower, chocolate and even strawberries and cream.
It’s not just these new and inspiring flavours that are appealing to the tastes of us Brits but the flourish of new mixers and gin combinations that bartenders are serving up. Gin gardens and gin bars have become resident features within many pubs, bars and clubs across the UK as the food and beverage market continue to feed this thriving drink trend.
If you’ve ever visited the Cabinet Rooms in Winchester (and if you haven’t, be sure to stop by when you’re next in the city!), you will know that Gary and Marcus, the gents behind the brilliance of this little cafe – bar, are well known within the city for their infectious enthusiasm and passion for learning about food and drink. And there’s no exception when it comes to gin. With World Gin Day just around the corner, Gary and Marcus are getting prepared to host the fourth annual Ginchester Fête!
The Ginchester Fête is Winchester’s local gin festival, designed and hosted by local people for the people of Winchester. Gin lovers are invited to this local quintessentially English summer fête on Saturday 8 June to celebrate the region’s food and drink scene with a focus on all things gin. And what better place for such an exciting event than Winchester’s very own Great Hall? This unique experience offers the chance to sip on your favourite G&T under King Arthur’s round table. With a lively and friendly atmosphere and a hall full of smiling faces, this is an event that never fails to impress.
There is ample opportunity throughout the day to sample a variety of local gins including Bombay Sapphire, Gorilla Spirits, Winchester Distillery and Smith and Weston. On arrival you will be presented with your own guide to the stands. As you wander around the medieval banquet hall, be sure to immerse yourself in a flavourful experimentation of the different gins being showcased. Don’t forget to pop down any notes in your guide about the super scrumptious gins so that you don’t forget them!
You are going to need to book onto one of the three two-and-a-half hour sessions that are being held throughout the day. Sessions are held at:
Your ticket includes a complimentary tasting glass and a cheeky gin and tonic on arrival. Be sure to get into the full summer fête spirit by joining in with the fun, games and amusements at the quirky village fête. There is also the opportunity to buy tokens from the Cabinet Rooms stand which can be used in exchange for G&T’s or cocktails of your choice from the bar.
Did you know that Winchester is home to one of the world’s most famous gins?
If there is one spot that gin lovers must visit, it’s the world-famous Bombay Sapphire Distillery. Tucked away just on the outskirts of Winchester in the idyllic town of Whitchurch, Laverstoke Mill is the birthplace to every drop of Bombay Sapphire gin distributed across the world.
It really is such a treat to have this famous distillery right on our very doorstep. In 2014, Bombay Sapphire opened their gates and invited the world to explore the magic behind the production of the world’s most famous gin. Since then, gin lovers from far and wide have flocked to get a taste of what Bombay Sapphire is all about.
If you like to think of yourself as a bit of a gin connoisseur, this is the perfect way to fine tune your knowledge. And if you’re “not quite into the whole gin thing” that’s perfectly OK… Bombay Sapphire’s master mixologists truly believe that there is a gin blend out there for everyone, so you might just surprise yourself!
The experience is all about finding out what you do and don’t like from a gin by picking apart its base ingredients and tuning into your senses to discover the ten botanicals within Bombay Sapphire’s signature gin. After your day of discovery, you’ll be treated to a gin cocktail tailored to your individual taste at the Mill Bar. For those who are driving, you can choose from a selection of non-alcoholic cocktails and pick up a Bombay Sapphire gift pack from the Gin Shop.
It is well worth noting that a trip to Bombay Sapphire is about more than just the gin. Laverstoke Mill itself is situated within the most picturesque surroundings that Instagrammers really don’t need a filter for! Nestled within a beautiful Conservation Area on the chalk streams of the River Test, Bombay Sapphire Distillery is surrounded by flourishing wildlife.
Laverstoke Mill is a perfect example of how nature and industrial heritage can intertwine to make something truly spectacular. This is the perfect opportunity to let out your inner explorer as you uncover over 1000 years of rich history dating back to 903AD. And here’s a little taster of something that many do not know, as well as something to remember next time you’re paying for your favourite G&T at the bar … Laverstoke Mill was home to Portals who, in 1724, obtained the contract to be the first as well as the exclusive supplier of watermarked banknote paper for the Bank of England.
Self-discovery or hosted experiences can be booked all year round and make for a great day out or gifts for friends, family or a loved one. For further information or to book, visit Bombay Sapphire Distillery’s website.
Tucked away in the heart of the city you’ll find an experimental hub of gin creativity. Winchester Distillery presents The Blend Academy – Winchester’s new state of the art gin school. You are invited through the doors of this hidden gem to learn about all things gin before graduating with your own tailor-made creation.
Launched in late 2018, the Blend Academy is dedicated to the creation, tasting and enjoyment of gin. This is a superb experience and unique gift idea for gin fans out there. Receive a complimentary G&T on arrival before lapping up a brief history and insight into the production of gin along with an introduction to some of the most popular botanicals.
After infusing your knowledge with the intricate science behind gin, it’s time to explore the wonderful world of botanicals. You are free to smell and taste the exclusive selection of over 100 botanical distillates, featuring native and exotic roots, herbs, spices, fruits and flowers. Allow your imagination to run wild and get the creative juices flowing as you start to think about your own gin blend! A Master Blender will be on hand to give you all the hints and tips needed to make a tasty and balanced gin.
Next, it’s time to get your blend on! Handpick a selection of your favourite botanicals to create a gin that is completely unique to you and your tastes, the possibilities are endless.
Once you’ve named your new concoction, it’s ready to be poured into a labelled bottle that includes both yours and your gin’s name. As a graduate of the Blend Academy, you will be able to order further bottles of your exclusive blend via the website. A unique Blend Academy gin makes for the perfect gift, a fantastic addition to a summer BBQ with friends and family, or a tasty treat to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.
The Blend Academy is open by appointment only on select Friday evenings, Saturday afternoons and Saturday evenings. Due to its popularity, it is advised that when you make your booking you do so plenty of time in advance.
And if you’re looking to extend your gin experience, why not book onto a tour at Winchester Distillery? Led by one of the distillery team, this 90-minute tour in Old Alresford allows you to learn about the history of gin, the production process as well as a tasting experience of the distillery’s premium spirits including Twisted Nose Watercress Gin and Winchester Dry Gin.
As the distillery celebrates its fifth year of gin production, there are new and exciting plans in store to install a higher capacity copper still and create a brewhouse, which will allow the distillery to use Hampshire grown barley to make the base spirit for gins, vodkas, whisky and process the molasses needed to make rum. Winchester Distillery is currently carrying out a crowdfunding campaign for the upcoming developments – so you can get involved and own a part of this fabulous distillery too.