A LANDMARK tourist attraction, which has been under construction for more than two years, will finally open to the public in October – and it is expected to attract 100,000 visitors a year.
Bombay Sapphire has announced that it will open its doors on October 1, offering a range of behind-the-scenes experiences to showcase how the gin is made.
The company began work at the Laverstoke Mill site in 2012, with the aim of opening in September 2013.
Despite being behind schedule, Valerie Brass, global marketing director of Bombay Sapphire gin, said the facility will be “world class”.
She added: “This is a truly exciting time for Bombay Sapphire as we open our doors to the public worldwide and share our story with them for the first time.
“Our aim was to create a world-class distillery, built to mirror the fundamental principles of our brand – beauty, creation and integrity.”
The attraction, beside the River Test, has seen the restoration and renovation of a collection of 250-year-old buildings, which were historically used to print banknote paper for the Bank of England.
London designer Thomas Heatherwick, who designed the Olympic Flame for the London 2012 Games, was behind the restoration project, working as part of Heatherwick Studio.
Visitors will discover how the distinctive flavour of Bombay Sapphire is created and can explore the distillery using an interactive map, allowing visitors to mark their preferred aromas and flavours, so bartenders in the Mill Bar can recommend cocktails to suit each person’s taste.
Guests will discover how the unique vapour infusion process works in the Dakin Still House and can explore the 10 botanicals used to flavour the gin, which are nurtured in the glasshouse.
Bombay Sapphire worked in partnership with the Kew Innovation Unit, of the Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew, to advise on planting, layout and design of the two intertwining glasshouses.
The two separate structures provide both a humid environment for spices that originate from the tropics as well as a dry temperate glasshouse for Mediterranean plants.
The team from Kew has also trained Laverstoke Mill’s on site horticulturalist Chris Cotterell to ensure that high standards are maintained all-year round.
There will also be the chance to learn about the history of both Laverstoke Mill and Bombay Sapphire in the Gallery and the Heritage room, which is housed in the former wheel room where the River Test used to drive the mill wheel.
Visitors will be able to browse the Gin Shop at the end of their visit before enjoying a complimentary cocktail in the Mill Bar, which runs parallel to the River Test, or on the terrace next to the river.
Along with the self-discovery experience option, Bombay Sapphire ‘Gin Experts’ will run daily interactive workshops with those who pre-book either the Ultimate Gin and Tonic Workshop or the Cocktail Master-class.
The 45-minute and one-hour sessions respectively will give visitors the chance to gain an in-depth knowledge of Bombay Sapphire gin, and be able to create their own signature drink.
A programme of scheduled events will be available to book throughout the year, including heritage workshops, botanical sessions and VIP experiences.
The distillery will also be available for private events. The self-discovery experience, which runs daily, will cost £15, the gin and tonic workshop £25, and the cocktail masterclass £35.
Advanced ticket bookings will be available from August 20 through the website distillery.bombaysapphire.com.