Have you ever fancied yourself as a mixologist, a creator of Cocktails, or perhaps you’re already skilled in shaking those spirits? Have you ever thought it might be rather fun to create your own drink? Well, the opportunity to do just that and create your very own bespoke Gin has arrived courtesy of the fabulous chaps at The Bath Gin Company.
Gin has seen a renaissance in more recent times, with small batch handcrafted gins bringing the drink back to its classic roots. Once a drink of infamy and tipple of the masses it later became the backbone of the Empire, fading into retirement in the post Second World War years as a diner’s aperitif. The sweetened Gins of the 1970s and 1980s acted as a base for the colourful cocktails of the Disco era but today’s palate is reverting back to more refined flavours and blends.
Many visitors to Bath who head just off the well trod tourist tracks will be rewarded with the discovery of some hidden gems of shops, bars and businesses; one of which is The Canary Gin Bar, home of The Bath Gin Company and its onsite shop, that lies between Milsom Street and Queen Square, on quiet cobbled Queen Street.
Established in 2013 The Bath Gin Company have been working tirelessly to enable themselves to distill and produce Gin on site in Queen Street (in the past it was produced at Thames Distillery in London and then delivered to Bath); and after ticking all the boxes and tying up all that red tape they are now, this year, able to proudly show off their Still and how they produce their zesty and refreshing Gin to us, the general public.
There are two options for a Guided Tour of The Bath Gin Company. First is the main Distillery Tour which lasts between 30-45 minutes, and the second option is the Distillery Tour with an added Gin Making Class which is a 2 hour experience.
Both tours begin with a welcome drink of Bath Gin and Tonic (or BG&T as it’s known) at the main bar, and drink in hand you head upstairs with your guide, in our case it was the Manager and skilled mixologist, Tom Pople, to the Martini Bar, where you can relax with your drink whilst Tom explains to you exactly what goes into making the drink you are enjoying as well as introducing you to the company’s latest addition – their very own Tonic which is a beautiful pink hue from the fever tree bark and hibiscus flower ingredients.
A brief history of Gin is also given and you’ll discover exactly why Gin was aptly named “Mother’s Ruin” in the 18th Century, and how the accession of King William III to the English throne in 1689 changed the landscape of British drinking forever.
Descending the stairs of this lovely early Georgian building, the tour heads to the basement where the Still and botanical lab is located. To enable distillation to take place here the whole cellar has been authorised by HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) as a Bonded Warehouse, which means that the liquor can be stored here with VAT and Duty suspended on it, until it leaves the cellar (either in Bottle or for use in the Bar) when the Duty is added on. This is the first time in over 200 years that Gin production has returned to the city.
In the Cellar you are talked through the whole procedure from start to finish and in the Botanicals Lab you can see all the various herbs, spices, leaves and flowers that are experimented with for other Bath Gin products, such as their Cucumber and Jasmine Gin and their Hopped Rhubarb Gin.
For those who haven’t opted to make their own Gin the tour finishes with a return to the Ground Floor and the main shop where you can purchase some of the fine products you have been hearing about. You are also presented with a miniature of Bath Gin to take home as a souvenir.
If you are continuing the experience, then Tom takes you back upstairs and to the Distiller’s Bar. Here another drink is dispensed for you, from the Bath Gin repertoire, as you mull over the jars in front of you from which you will create your very own Gin. You’ll be guided fully through the varying Botanicals and what you need to do and there is a chance to experiment with the various distillates until you find your perfect blend.
Once you are happy with your concoction, the recipe you have created is then upscaled and you add the products to your base Gin. It is then capped, you label your bottle (as well as naming your Gin of course) and then you can take home a 70cl bottle of your very own bespoke Gin to enjoy with family and friends (or if you’re not the sharing type just enjoy it with ice and a slice and some refreshing tonic).
The Tour and Gin Making Experience concludes with the presentation to you of your Gin, plus a bulging goodie bag containing a 20cl Hip Flask of Bath Gin, a £10 Gift Voucher that can be used in the shop, or in the Canary Gin Bar where you can partake of over 200 gins if you so wish to or one of their marvelous Gin based cocktails, plus some additional promotional material and information.
If you haven’t quite had enough Gin then you can head back to your base at The Royal Hotel (a mere 10 minute walk from The Canary Gin Bar….or perhaps a bit longer if you’ve partaken of a couple of The Canary Bar Gin Cocktails) where you too can enjoy The Bath Gin Company’s fine Classic “Gin Austen” BG&T for only £5.50 in our 1846 Bar and Lounge.
You’ll certainly enjoy a deep sleep after such an exciting few hours of tasting and testing, so make sure you’ve booked your stay at The Royal Hotel – we offer En-Suite Standard, Superior and Four Poster Rooms with Breakfast as standard, as well as Dinner, Bed and Breakfast options, Special Offers, Spa Breaks and Romantic Getaways. Do contact us to book or for further details: 01225 463134 or take a look online at www.royalhotelbath.co.uk
The Bath Gin Company Distillery Tours (Max 10 People) costs £25.00 pp
The Bath Gin Company Distillery Tour and Gin Making Class (Max 6 People) costs £110.00 pp
To book a Tour contact The Bath Gin Company directly on 01225 462457 or online.
It looks like Gin is the drink du jour in Bath at the moment, for there is also a brand new Gin Distillery that has popped up in nearby Widcombe called The Bath Botanical Gin Distillery.
(All prices are correct as of May 2017)
(Photographs copyright The Bath Gin Company, BBC, and Catherine Pitt)