London’s gin heritage dates back centuries and has played a significant role in the city’s fate and fortunes down the years. Indeed, during the first half of the 18th century, a rapid increase in the consumption of gin in the Big Smoke – and indeed across Britain – led to an epidemic that became known as The Gin Craze, a time characterised by extreme drunkenness and social disorder.
Happily, today’s gin scene in the capital is far more refined – well, usually, anyway. There are a huge number of gin distilleries across the city which produce exceptional gin that goes on to be sold across the world. Many of these distilleries also offer tours of their premises, not to mention the chance to sample their delicious yield. We’ve picked out 7 of the best gin tours currently on offer in London.
From £35 per person
Take a trip through the fascinating world of gin, from its ruinous past to its modern-day revival, on this 1.5-hour gin tour and tasting experience hosted by the East London Liquor Company. During the experience you’ll learn how gin is made, witness a distillery in full operational action, and then enjoy a dedicated tasting session where you’ll get to ask questions of the on-site experts. Tours tend to run on Fridays and Saturdays.
From $249 per person
Hit London’s roads on this two-hour drive in a classic Mini Cooper, stopping at two acclaimed gin bars and distilleries along the way. The tour starts with a pick-up in Central London where you’ll be chaperoned in style by a local guide who will regale you with fascinating tales about the history of the city, including stories of the era of Charles Dickens. At each of the two stop-offs you’ll get to taste some of the products and see how they’re made. Transportation and three gin-based drinks are included in the price of the tour.
From £59 per person
This food-and-drink-themed half-day tour combines two of London’s most celebrated culinary landmarks Borough Market and the Beefeater Gin Distillery. The tour starts at historic Borough Market, the oldest and largest food market in London dating back to 1014, where you’ll get to wander around the site at your leisure. Next, you’ll make your way to the district of Kennington, home to the world famous Beefeater Gin Distillery, where you’ll get the chance to go behind the scenes, discover how they produce their gin’s unique flavour, and even get to sample some yourself. The price of the tour includes entrance to the distillery and samples.
From £120 per person
Created by Portobello Road Gin, The Ginstitute invites discerning drinkers to craft their own unique gin recipe to take home with them. Nestled beneath The Distillery on the iconic Portobello Road, you’ll be taken on a whistle stop journey through the history of gin before culminating in an interactive and engaging gin-making session where you learn all about the production process and botanicals before blending your own unique recipe gin. Tickets include a 3-hour history of gin and gin-making masterclass with four gin cocktails/mixed drinks , a bottle of your own unique gin, and a bottle of Portobello Road Gin.
From £20 per person
Visit the self-styled Home of English Gin in Balham, southwest London, and immerse yourself in the stories and processes behind the distillery’s full range of True English Gins. During this 90-minute tour, you’ll be welcomed with a classic Gin and Tonic before getting a behind-the-scenes look of the distillery at work. Afterwards, you’ll enjoy a tutored tasting or Hayman’s range of gins, when you’ll be invited to see the stills, nose the botanicals and taste the gins in a welcoming and friendly setting. The price of the tour includes one complimentary gin drink, with any others priced accordingly.
From £32 per person
An ideal introduction for anyone keen to learn more about gin, its history and its diversity, this 1.5-hour tour will send you away with fresh knowledge and interest about the berry-infused drink, and able to answer questions such as “where does the phrase ‘Dutch courage’ come from?”. During the experience you’ll sit down to an informal tasting session where you’ll get to sample a variety of different gin styles. The tour price includes a cocktail on arrival and a total of 5 gin samples. Tours take place on Saturdays only.
From £25 per person
Visitors are welcomed to take a guided tour of this venerable London distillery, during which you’ll discover the history of gin in the capital and learn about the site’s time-honoured gin-making techniques. After a warm welcome from your guide you’ll get to hear the intriguing stories of gin in London, from the Gin Craze to the present day. Next you’ll learn all about the processes used to distill their award-winning gins before being introduced to the venue’s dedicated copper stills. Finally, you’ll be taken through a 3-flight gin tasting session to close out the experience in memorable style.