Hampshire distillery tours need to be on your list of things to do in the county.
There are some really amazing experiences, and we’ve an array to pick from locally. There’s ones that suit whatever experience you’re looking for, from the more lavish to the more intimate.
There’s even one that include gin making, so take a look at these five Hampshire Distillery tours…
Kicking off the Hampshire distillery tours list is by far the biggest company but there’s plenty of local independents too. I’ve put the list in alphabetical order to keep things fair as they all have their own charms and are quite different.
I also added some other Hampshire distilleries to the list that offer some other quirky experiences or drinks I thought you might like . They are at the end of the post, if you’re interested.
Hampshire Distillery Tours
Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke
This is probably one of the most beautiful distilleries in the world. Gin giant Bombay Sapphire is produced in the heart of sunny Hampshire in a stunning old paper mill. The village is idyllic, surrounded by proper British countryside and full of old buildings you’d expect to see on a box of fudge.
At the centre of the mill two Mediterranean and tropical glasshouses take pride of place, like very large glass bells, it’s an architectural dream. It’s easy to forget it’s an active distillery.
Clearly a lot of thought has gone into making the tours and a gin journey tailored to whether you’re more interested in a horticultural, heritage or discovery Bombay Sapphire experience.
I love the tasting notes room and really enjoyed learning and trying the raw ingredients that go into gin. It’s a room full of botanicals beautifully displayed on long wooden benches which allow you to get hands on with the gin’s flavours.
Bartenders create a bespoke cocktail out of your preferred flavours at the end of the tour. A lovely end to a wonderful visit, I definitely had a new found appreciation for Bombay Sapphire after the tour too. I found a guided tour gives a more human connection to such a large gin company.
Tours last a couple of hours and can be self guided, hosted or more bespoke. Prices start from £25.
Gorilla Spirits, Basingstoke
A delicious gin that helps support the gorillas by donating £1 to The Gorilla Organization for every bottle sold. I first discovered this gin at a little preview event at The Dancing Man Brewery and it’s a lovely blend of botanicals.
At their HQ, they have a beautiful tasting room, it looks like a gorgeous lounge with a big gorilla lamp. It looks better than I’ve described it, promise.
Experiences include a distillery tour, cocktail masterclass or the gin school. Out of all the Hampshire distillery tours, Gorilla is the only one offering a gin school at the moment. The school also includes a tour so you don’t have to pick one over the other when you book your visit.
I really love the sound of the gin school, you get your own mini copper still and get to make your own gin. I know the COLD distillery in London by St Paul’s offers this experience but I haven’t come across it anywhere else.
After you’ve made and named your gin you make a full bottle that you get to take home and a big gin and tonic to sample your creation. Doesn’t it sound like fun and really different? I would love to try this out one day.
Tours last a few hours and prices start from £25.
The Isle of Wight Distillery is less of a tour and more of a bar with places for talks and watching the stills in action. But, it’s still a wonderful place to visit and enjoy the terrace in the summer and the log fire when the cold sets in.
I’ve not been to the distillery yet, but I have met Xavier and Conrad, the owners and distillers, several times and been to many events with them both. They are so lovely and are producing such an excellent gin flavoured with locally foraged samphire.
I’ve had many bottles of Mermaid Gin and just polished off the fruity strawberry gin. It is, quite simply, the best every strawberry gin I’ve had and has been my go to in lockdown. Plus, the branding is something else, the bottles are stunning.
It will be one of my first stops when I head to the Island next.
If you’re not local to Hampshire, there are two ferry services to the Isle of Wight, Wightlink goes from Portsmouth and Red Funnel from Southampton. It’s really easy to use, you don’t need a passport and you can take your car, you know, to bring all the gin home in.
The Portsmouth Distillery, Portsmouth
Out of all the Hampshire distillery tours I think this is the one in the most naturally unique setting.
The distillery is in an actual fort! Fort Cumberland is on Eastney Point on Portsea Island. I’ve been wanting to go for ages, and it’s so close to where I live, so I’m going to book tickets asap.
Alongside a guided tour you also get to explore the fort and learn a little bit of it’s background. I think the setting would be so atmospheric while sipping a gin and tonic.
While I’ve had cocktails made with Fort Gin, I’ve yet to get a bottle. It’s been added to my list, don’t you worry!
Tours start from £15 but I can’t find how long they last for, reviews place it at a couple of hours but please check if you decide to book.
Winchester Distillery, Alresford
I’ve been wanting to go to the Winchester Distillery tour for years, and this is another I really need to book in.
I first discovered the Twisted Nose Gin when I went to the Alresford Watercress festival many years ago and have been a firm fan ever since.
We’ve had all the special editions too, the Spring Blossom, Autumn Hedgrow and Winter Wassail gins. I’m rationing them because they are produced each year and not repeated.
The tour has excellent reviews, lasts a couple of hours and I’m lead to believe it has a much more intimate feel to it. For prices, check the website.
Out of all the Hampshire Distillery Tours, the Winchester Distillery is the only one to also have its own blend academy.
The Blend Academy is in central Winchester away from the distillery but, it has a library of ingredients for your perusal. An expert will take you through the ingredients and good pairings to guide you through the flavouring process. All flavourings are recorded and afterwards you can re-order your blend of gin whenever you like.
These are two separate experiences in two separate locations run by the Winchester Distillery. But, I really feel The Blend Academy is worth a mention given it’s quite a unique gin experience in the area. It adds a new dimension to the gin experience.
There’s lots of other great distilleries in Hampshire too but, these at the moment, do not offer tours. Take a look…
- Dancing Cows Distillery, Lymington
- The River Test Distillery, Longparish
- Wyrd Spirits, Southampton
- Hogmoor Distillery, Bordon – Hogmoor Distillery has a class that is a bit like a cross between Gorilla Spirits and The Blend Academy’s class. You can make your own gin and they keep your blend on record so you can order it again. But, it’s all done on site at the distillery.
Don’t you just love finding something new to do in your area or somewhere you’re visiting? Ah, this is why I love travel, even locally, the most.
Tours teach you so much about the process, ingredients and people running the company. And, they always know the best pairings for the drink because they are the ones who made it!
I think it’s lucky that all the Hampshire distillery tours are so different, I didn’t realise we had so many in Hampshire and can’t wait to plan some trips to check them out properly.
I hope you enjoy discovering these five Hampshire distillery tours and it gives you some exciting trips to plan in the months ahead.
Have you been to any? What did you think of it? Or, which one do you like the sound of? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
If you’re looking for things to do in Hampshire, take a look at these other posts…