Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke Mill – Master’s Distillery Visit

When Liveryman Dr Anne Brock suggested a visit in my Year to the fabulous site Bombay Sapphire site at Laverstoke as part of my 350th Anniversary appeal visits, I didn’t need asking twice!

This time I had the pleasure of the company of Upper Warden and Master-Elect, Chris Searle, and we had the most wonderful hospitality extended to us.

Warmly greeted by Sam “Mr Bombay” Carter, we were given the history of this iconic brand and how it began life in Warrington, with gin being distilled there as far back as 1831. The Dakin family purchased a still and adapted it to separate the exotic botanicals from the neutral grain spirit, capturing the flavours of the botanicals in the vapour. As we learned, this distillation process, now known as Vapour Infusion is still used by Bombay Sapphire today.

We were guided through the two great glasshouses, kept at tropical temperatures to maintain living examples of all the botanicals used in the production of Bombay Sapphire’s range, which we then proceeded to taste through in the botanicals room.

Chris Searle and Sam Carter in the glasshouse

The Bombay Sprits Company purchased the site and land around Laverstoke Mill in 2010 and after four years of specialist craft and construction in 2014 The Bombay Sapphire Distillery opened. Since then, it has committed to quality and growth, through sustainable working practices. Nothing is wasted

The 10 botanicals in Bombay Sapphire will this year be certified sustainable with the “For Life” certification awarded by Ecocert S.A, the world’s leading specialist in the certification of sustainable practices. This recognises the commitment to only work with suppliers who act responsibly and ensure a sustainable future for farmers, their communities and the environment.

When the distillery opened in Laverstoke in 2014, it set a new standard for sustainability by showcasing many innovations which were integral to the distillery’s design including of course the famous glasshouses. The design was rated ‘outstanding’ by BREEAM, the most recognized environmental assessment for buildings. The distillery also runs on 100% renewable electricity and has been awarded the Carbon Trust Standard.

Master & Master Elect outside the glasshouse

We were extremely fortunate that Dr Anne Brock, Master Distiller for Bombay Sapphire, was able to take time out of her busy schedule to give us a guided tour around the distillery, explaining the workings of the stills and the traditional ‘trademark’ vapour infusion method used to create each gin within the range of Bombay Sapphire brands. Under Anne’s guidance and vision, her team of distillers have seen the vision turn into the reality of global sales rising to record levels. It’s not just her technical experience that has contributed to the growing success of Bombay Sapphire, but as an ambassador, with her travels, tastings and talks around the world making her one of the most respected figures in gin today.

Grand Rectifier of the Gin Guild from 2019-2021, Anne still holds a position on the board of directors at the Guild, we are very fortunate indeed to have Anne in the Worshipful Company of Distillers

We concluded our visit in the splendid Blue Room, an eyrie of hospitality, high up in the distillery building and home to Bombay Sapphire’s in-house bar.

The Master, Master Elect and Dr. Anne Brock

Our lunchtime paninis were accompanied by various delightful products, all expertly prepared and poured for us by Sam, with Anne talking us through each. We enjoyed every one, each with its own expression and each very different, Bombay Dry Gin, Premier Cru Gin infused with Lemon, Mandarin and Sweet Orange, Bombay Sapphire and last but not least a delicious Star of Bombay Dry Martini Cocktail.

L-R: Master Elect, Dr. Anne Brock, Master, Sam Carter

A truly wonderful visit which is highly recommended.

Very many thanks to Anne, Sam and everyone at Laverstoke who made us so very welcome – we finished our day with this short film, by way of ‘live thanks’ to all whom made it possible and some messages to our Livery colleagues about forthcoming events

Chris Porter
Master 2021-2022