Top 10 Gin Distilleries In London You Need To Visit
This year has been huge for gin in London. With dozens of bars now specialising in the spirit, and a host of new craft gins to choose from, festivals and tasting sessions are fast becoming the ‘it’ thing to do in the capital. In fact, when you consider the most iconic gin distilleries to date, most made their start on the streets of London. Ask any gin lover where Tanqueray, Gordan’s and Beefeater began, and they’ll tell you London town. It’s true, gin seems to be the taste of the capital. This craze hasn’t just popped up overnight! Since 2009, a new era of gin distilleries have stepped onto the scene, bringing a fresh flavour and vibe to this popular spirit. The good news is that many of these gems have also decided to base themselves in the capital. The great news is, you can actually pay them a visit, taste their selection, and learn the ins and outs of all things gin! What’s more, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 gin distilleries with tours and experiences in London that you need to visit, right now. So get on the craze while it’s still hot and prepare yourself for some smooth-sipping!
The Ginstitute began its life as London’s smallest museum at 171 Portobello Road. Since then they have relocated their museum and blending room a few doors down to the basement of no. 186. The gin instructors lead you through an in-depth talk on the history of Gin in London. Starting with its medicinal use 200 years ago to the ‘Gineissance’ that has now gripped the city. You’ll be greeted by a few tasty tipples throughout your tour. Beginning with a Tom Collins, then onto the classic gin and tonic as the tour moves on the Stills Room. Meet their royal company of copper pot stills, the stupendous 400L King Henry and his 30L sidekicks, Copernicus the Third & Copernicus the Fourth. Then it’s time to get a little handsy as you sample a host of botanical ingredients that will flavour your own unique bottle of gin that you can take home with you. Make your selections wisely, because they’ll store your recipe on their database for you to reorder it online. [caption id="attachment_3522" align="alignnone" width="3000"]
Image courtesy of The Ginstitute[/caption]
City of London Distillery Tour
The City of London Distillery has accomplished a lot over the last couple of years. Since 2017 the distillery has received three Double-Gold awards at the San Fransico World Spirit Competition, a Gold Award at the International Wine & Spirits Competition, and a Gin Masters award for its newest Sloe Gin. With so many accolades to show off, it seems natural that their gin experiences are as equally rewarding. Their double gin tasting experience runs at £25. And you’ll get the chance to learn about their gin distilling process while you sample their selection. In the £125 Gin Lab experience, you can distil your own special brew, bottle it up in a personalised bottle, and seal it with red wax.
Haymans Gin Distillery has a history of dating back 150 years. Their expertise has been handed down from generation to generation since 1863 and the original gin boom. As such, they provide a glimpse into the authentic history of British gin, championing classically balanced recipes that are distilled as they would have been 150 years ago. Visit their newly reopened space in Balham nicknamed the ‘Home of Gin’. The 1st-floor mezzanine allows you to look over the kitchen styled laboratory below while you sip a G&T at the bar. During your 90-minute tour, you’ll view the stills, Marjorie, Karin and Miranda, and learn about the Haymans two-day distilling process that's used before the copper-pot heating stage.
Jensen’s at Bermondsey Distillery
A visit to Jensen’s Gin distillery offers both atmosphere and simplicity. Self-titled as ‘London’s Larder,’ the Bermondsey based bar draws inspiration from the vintage recipes of London’s lost distilleries. It operates out of a converted railway arch and distils in small batches using traditional botanicals to produce two types of gin: Bermondsey dry gin and Jensen’s Old Tom Gin. The bar is open all day, serving up refreshing G&Ts and a range of cocktails. Admission is free to the tours and tastings that run throughout the day, but you’ll need to visit their website for a fully guided tour. Make the most of your day and visit the Maltby Street Market beforehand (Saturdays 10am - 4pm) and (Sundays 11 - 4pm). The added bonus is that you can bring your food from the market into the distillery! [caption id="attachment_3525" align="alignnone" width="1037"]
Image courtesy of Jensen’s at Bermondsey Distillery[/caption]
The London Distillery Company
The London Distillery Company in Battersea doesn’t solely produce Gin, but whiskey too. The distillery prides itself on upholding the innovative traditions of the Georgian era and has partnered up with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (included in The London Pass), to source the best botanicals. The distillery produces two distinct gins. Kew Organic gin and Dodd’s gin- which is named after entrepreneur, Raph Dodd, who attempted to build the first tunnel under the Thames in 1807. Pop in for a tour of their stills, Christina, Little Albion and Matilda, each producing a uniquely flavoured spirit. Learn about the distillery process and their vibrant history. Tours cost £25 and take place on Saturdays at midday, 1.30pm and 3pm, offering a complimentary G&T and samples from the spirits being produced on-site.
Traditional meets, modern refinery in Sipsmith’s distillery, based in West London. As the first independent distillery to receive a traditional copper-pot distillery licence since 1820, Sipsmith has paved the way for a new wave of small gin distilleries in the city. Their experimental distilling process has even produced an orange and cacao flavoured gin- have a bit of that, chocolate lovers! For just £25 you can enjoy a glass of G&T at this beautiful Chiswick space while you learn about the history of Gin in London. Once your done sipping, you can take a tour of the stills, Prudence, Patience and Constance- and get stuck in with a tutored tasting session.
58 Gin distillery in Hackney Downs provides a real treat for the eyes and taste buds. Half situated under a railway arch, the distillery is picturesque- all-white walls and exposed copper pipes, rumbling slightly as trains intermittently pass overhead. Every bottle is handcrafted by founder Mark Marmont and operations manager, Carmen Dunphy and the result is truly delicious. During the gin tasting session, you’ll be treated to some nibbles as well as a few cocktails. Experience an immersive sensory masterclass on how gin is made and an extensive gin tasting session to assess what flavours make you tick. Their skilled distillers will then lead you through choosing your own bespoke blend of botanicals which you will use to craft your own gin. Next comes a bottling process where you’ll label and wax seal your own 500ml bottle.
Situated in Kennington, Beefeater is arguably one of the most iconic gin distilleries in London. It received its distilling licence in 1829 and has been making a range of unique gin blends ever since. The tour experience is as equally comprehensive, with a 1.5-hour tour for only £15, but entry is included with The London Pass! The distillery features Victorian pot stills and a botanical room, where the fresh ingredients are stored. It is a self-discovery tour that takes you through the history of Gin in London. Learn how politics, exotic imports, an era of Victorian entrepreneurs, and American Barmen influenced its manufacturing process. Fully immerse yourself in the interactive exhibits and additional information that’s provided via iPad- available at the reception desk. Enjoy a comparative tasting session, and of course, a complimentary Beefeater G&T to round off your tour. To get you in the mood, check out their Blood Orange edition video - perfect for summer cocktails and autumn and winter too, for that matter. Not sure about spring.
East London Liquor Company, Mile End
The East London Liquor Company put the spirit in gin making. Awarded the Master for Distillery Innovation and a Gold for Consumer Experience in the 2016 distillery Masters Competition. Their factory is housed within an old glue factory, but don’t let that throw you. As a result, the East London space is surprisingly modern. Their Holstein copper stills are a central focal point and sit in full view just behind the bar. They produce a signature London Dry gin and two unique batch gins, made from 100% British wheat. The Borough Market Bottle Shop offers samples of the distillery's gin and whiskey. For a more in-depth experience, try their ‘Spirit of Gin’ tour at the distillery. Tours cost £35 and run on most Fridays and Saturdays. For that price, you'll get a lesson on ‘mother’s ruins’ history, a tasting session in the maturation room, and the chance to sample three East London Liquor Company gins. Add to this tasting three other gins from around the world.
For gin with a twist of science, Sacred in Highgate is the way to go. They use vacuum distillation as a way to preserve the richness of flavour and aromas of their botanicals. And bespoke handblown glassware to originally sourced botanicals macerated in English wheat for 4-6 weeks. The distilling process is designed to an exact specification. The distillery was initially set up in founder Ian Kart’s home residence: talk about keeping it close to home! Alongside classic London dry gins, Sacred has also produced some edgier brews, including pink grapefruit, cardamom and Christmas pudding blends. Brew your own 200ml bottle and take home a 700ml bottle of your favourite gin from the distillery. Just head on over to their website and book a place. In the meantime, while you’re planning your next adventure at one of these great gin distilleries, why not read up on some of our Beefeater Gin Distillery Tour FAQs?