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 £112 per person
In the swanky environs of The Donovan Bar in Mayfair, patronised over the years by some of London’s most glitzy figures from fashion and art, pairs of guests can enjoy a memorable 2-hour gin and tonic experience hosted by acclaimed bartender Salvatore Calabrese. During your time in the venue, with its walls adorned with black and white photographs and set against the backdrop of the smooth sounds of jazz, you’ll get to taste a selection of three different gins – dry, herbal and spiced – while learning about how to pair gins with tonics to bring out the flavour. The experience is available from 8pm to 10pm daily.
From £63.72 per person
Take a wonder through some of London’s nooks and crannies while learning about the history of gin in the capital. Starting in the districts of London Bridge and Bermondsey, both of which have rich gin-making backstories, you’ll visit several venues to sample a range of gins. The 3-hour tour ends in a historic local distillery with more fascinating insights into gin production and its pivotal role in the city down the ages, plus an obligatory tasking session. Tours start at 3.30pm.
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. Tour departure times are 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm & 7pm.
From £170 per person
First opened in 1820, Sipsmith Distillery has played a central role in London’s gin-making heritage. Today gin enthusiasts can enjoy a guided tour of the premises and combine it with a gin-inspired, three-course meal for two. During the tour you’ll be offered the chance to line the stomach with a tutored tasting of the award-winning Sipsmith range before sitting down to your gourmet meal in a popular nearby eatery. The tour concludes with the presentation of a bottle of Sipsmith to take away with you. The Sipsmith Sipper Club is available every Tuesday, starting at 6.30pm
From £285 per group
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. Tours run any time from 9am to 9pm; exact departure time should be confirmed directly with the supplier.
From £49 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. Tours last for 4 hours and the price includes entrance to the distillery and samples.
From £52 per person
This small-group day trip transports visitors via a Mercedes mini-coach from London to the historic city of Winchester in the south of England. During the 10-hour fully accompanied tour you’ll get to explore all the city has to offer, including its magnificent cathedral, ancient mill, and myriad of museums. After a leisurely look around, you’ll head to Laverstoke Mill, distiller of one of the world’s most popular gins, Bombay Sapphire, where you’ll get to discover the artistry behind the gin-making process, before your return journey to London. Tours start at 9.15am.