Having lived in London for the better part of a decade, I find it increasingly tricky to think of new and exciting ways to spend a weekend. Trawling the shops on Oxford Street? No thanks. Visiting a museum? Hmm, there are no exhibitions I fancy. Bottomless brunches, escape rooms and secret cinemas? Been there, done that.
On a recent rainy Saturday morning I was scrolling through Instagram for what felt like the millionth time that day, when the well-known Samuel Johnson quote ‘when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ popped into my head. ‘How can I possibly be bored of London?’ I thought. ‘There must be at least one thing in the entire city that sparks an interest’. After a quick Google search, I found myself booking an afternoon tour of The Beefeater Gin Distillery. After all, who doesn’t love a G&T?
A London institution
This London institution offers a lesson in the history of London’s gin scene – from its humble beginnings as the libation of the lower-classes, to its status as the hipster tipple-of-choice today. During the 1.5 hour tour, you’ll also learn about the intricate distillation process. There’s even time to taste some of the unmistakably juniper-centric spirit, in the form of a refreshing G&T at the end.
Tucked away in an unassuming suburban side street in South East London, The Beefeater Gin Distillery is a little tricky to find at first, but you’re greeted with friendly staff from the moment you step through the doors. The tour starts with a self-guided sojourn through the history of gin in London. Learn about how James Burroughs created London’s most famous gin over 150 years ago, how politicians scrabbled to quell the ‘gin-craze’ of the early 1700’s, and why the 1930’s prohibition era in the USA sparked a booming gin-scene back in London (where some of today’s best-loved gin cocktails were invented).
Next, you’ll be greeted by a Beefeater Host who will talk you through the age-old distillation process. You’ll start by experiencing the unique fusion of ingredients that makes up the signature Beefeater Gin taste; juniper berries, citrus peel, liquorice and more. Next, you’ll pause to taste two gins from the Beefeater collection whilst an expert explains the subtle differences between each one. The tour continues with a sneak-peek at the stills that make the distillation process happen and a glimpse into the sensory secrets that ensure each Beefeater Gin is as perfect as the last.
Finally, it’s time to savour a well-earned G&T. They serve their original blend on-ice, paired with Fever Tree tonic and garnished with a slice of orange – heavenly! It’s safe to say that an afternoon at The Beefeater Gin Distillery re-ignited my love for London. Who knew there was so much history in the bottom of a bottle of the city’s favourite spirit?
So, if you find yourself at a loose-end on a rainy Saturday, I challenge you to inject some fun into your London life at The Beefeater Gin Distillery. Prices start from £15 for a tour lasting 1.5 hours. www.beefeaterdistillery.com