These days, there are a whole lot more ways visitors can get to know British gin than there used to be. While classic options like sipping martinis at the Savoy in London or touring a traditional distillery such as Beefeater are still viable (and worthwhile) pit stops to consider, those who want to get more hands-on can easily do so. You can sign up for a roving history lesson that will lead you to some of the world’s finest cocktail bars, visit a gin museum where you can create your own craft gin blend, pull up a bar stool to choose from one of the world’s largest collections of gin, opt to stay at a gin-themed hotel, or even try a gin botanical-infused spa experience.
Below, check out 10 of our favorite such experiences for any gin-lover, which you can find all over the country (not just in London). No matter what (or where) you choose to explore, you’re all but guaranteed to leave a little wiser…and a little buzzed, of course.
Head to London’s Ginstitute for an hour-long history lesson complete with hands-on introductions to gin botanicals (and cocktails, of course). Then, use your newfound knowledge to make up your own blend from 17 different distillates, which the Ginstitute will keep on file in case you ever want to order more. Should you like your class so much you don’t want to leave, book a stay in one of the Ginstitute’s lodging rooms upstairs at their three-room boutique hotel, the Distillery.
Several gin botanical-inspired treatments are on the menu at this Glasgow day spa, many of which begin with a Juniper bath foot soak. Other treatments incorporate aromatherapy with ingredients like bergamot or eucalyptus, and of course, all include a complementary gin and tonic.
The home of Plymouth gin, the Black Friars Distillery has some serious history behind it. Founded in 1793, it’s the oldest working gin distillery in England. Prior to that, the building was home to a Dominican monastery founded in 1425. Get all the details at one of the distillery tours on offer, which finish with a tasting in the Refectory Bar.
Walking distance from Blenheim Palace, this quirky boutique hotel in Woodstock is home to the first bar to ever appear as an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for “largest gin selection.” Their menu spans over 400 bottles, including hyper-local options from Cotswolds. Stop in for a drink or book a room to explore the surrounds, which include the gardens at Rousham House. (Plus, the award-winning Cotswolds Distillery is about a 30-minute drive away if you want to stick to the gin theme.)
Since opening in 2012, this brand has received awards for almost every gin it makes, including its Old Tom and sloe gins. The brand offers a number of different distillery experiences, including a make-your-own-gin competition and blind taste test perfect for bigger groups.
This distillery by day, bar by night is a one-stop shop. The brand offers several tour options, which range from history lessons to guided tastings to making your very own bottle of gin. The space transforms into a lively bar in the evening, where you can still get up close and personal with the two Edinburgh Gin Distillery stills installed in the middle of all the action.
Owned by the couple behind Chase Distillery, which happens to be just down the road, Verzon House offers multiple gin-infused packages that include Chase Distillery tours, welcome G&Ts, cocktail masterclasses, and other gin-related goodies, as you wish.
The first copper pot distillery in London in almost 200 years has a couple of cool options that go beyond the typical tour. One: You can opt for the “Sipsmith Sipper Club,” which ends with a tasting at Charlotte’s Bistro, an award-winning cocktail bar and bistro in Chiswick. Two: Go all out with the “Ultimate Gin Cocktail Masterclass,” where you’ll learn how to mix like a pro.
This multi-city tour for gin aficionados and newbies alike might be the quickest way to get steeped in the gin culture of several UK cities (and now, Singapore). A gin expert—the brand refers to them as “Gin Guardians” — will lead you around by chauffeured car to five different venues famous for their gin cocktails; some tours also include a gin distillery visit. Along the way, you’ll learn about gin history and cocktail culture. Multiple locations including London, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester.
In addition to several self-guided tour options, Bombay Sapphire also takes things up a notch for those interested in specific aspects of gin. There’s the horticulture experience, which gets you an interactive session with Chris Cotterell, the brand’s horticulturist, as well as an “in-depth botanical discovery session.” History buffs might want to consider the heritage experience, which includes a hosted tour with an expert that gives you access to “a range of artifacts, photographs and historic documents from the Bombay Sapphire Archive.”
What’s your favorite distillery in the UK? Tell us in the comments below!