Are you experienced?
It’s all very well drinking your favourite gin in the comfort of your own home or in your local, but where can you go for a truly immersive juniper-based adventure? We explore some of the world’s best…
Make gin at the end of the world
Ok, maybe not quite the end of the world, but the McHenry Distillery in Tasmania is the world’s most southern family-owned distillery. Located on the side of Mount Arthur, overlooking Port Arthur, with its historic former convict settlement, this humble distillery was founded in 2010 to make craft spirits. Founder William McHenry has been producing a vast number of gins, and some whisky here, and Fridays see him open his distillery to visitors keen to learn about cold distillation and Australian botanicals. Following an educational chat and tour, guests are taken to see the spring water source before having a picnic and then getting down to distilling. Each person has their own vacuum still, a serious piece of kit that enables you to see what’s going on thanks to the glass flask. Guests walk away with a 500ml bottle of their gin, plus a 200ml bottle of McHenry’s Classic Dry Gin.
From AU$300 per person
Tour a gin-crazy Irish town
If anyone knows how to run a pub, it’s the Irish. The publicans in Castlebar, County Mayo have taken their expertise to a whole other level with the creation of their gin trail, however. 15 bars are participating, and all juniper-lovers need to do is wander into one, order a G&T and pick up the map in order to find their way from one venue to the next. Each bar champions one gin brand – with a fair showing of products from the Emerald Isle – and offers a perfect serve G&T. The small town is easy to meander around, and there’s live music on somewhere each day of the week. Spend a couple of days acquainting yourself with the local haunts before heading off to the Wild Atlantic Way, a route running down the western coast of Ireland, to take a bracing dip and ward off that hangover.
Make gin in the heart of London
London’s links with gin run deep, so it’s fitting to learn how to distil the spirit at the City of London Distillery. Situated in the basement of a building off a tiny street, guests are welcomed to the bar with a drink before starting the serious business of getting acquainted with the classic gin botanicals. After smelling (and sometimes tasting) your way through various citrus peels, liquorice, juniper and other fruits and spices, everyone picks their own mix of ingredients to throw into their own tiny copper-pot still named after one of the seven dwarves. You can stand guard as the spirit drip, drips through the swan neck into your container, or design your bottle’s label while you wait. At the end of the session there’s some gentle rivalry in the form of a blind tasting to see whose is best, before everyone tumbles out clutching their very own bottle of gin.
£125 per person
Take a Gin Journey
Anyone looking for a high-energy, fun-filled way to immerse themselves in the ginnaissance should book themselves on a Gin Journey. Available in three London locations (Shoreditch, Bermondsey and Notting Hill), as well as Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, the tours take a similar shape in the sense that participants are driven between five venues, taste five gins, drink five cocktails and have a distillery tour. Each tour is tailored to the location with Liverpool’s former port glory looming large in that city, and the celebration of Leeds local Joseph Priestly, who invented carbonation, adding the fizz to your tonic. The brainchild of consummate host and gin expert Leon Dalloway, he has assembled a host of charming ‘Gin Guardians’ to oversee proceedings and get you from A to B.
£52.57-73.85 dependent on location
Drink world-beating gin and tonics in Finland
Finnish distillery Kyrö really announced its arrival in 2015, when its Rye Gin was declared one of the best for a gin and tonic at a major drinks competition for two years running. Located in an old dairy in the small Finnish town of Isokyrö (population: 4,693), the friendly team offers various tour packages, but our pick of the bunch is the one that includes dinner in the distillery restaurant/bar. Catering is provided by Juurella Restaurant in Seinäjoki, and has a distinctly Finnish twist (think lingonberry posset with salty liquorice powder), not to mention other quirks such as a ryesotto, made with the malted rye that the distillery uses. Sink Sainios (a gin sour made from Napue gin, sea buckthorn, lemon and vanilla) and soak in the atmosphere – locals are just as likely to be propping up the bar as tourists are.
Tour, tasting and dinner, €65-80 per person, minimum booking of 10 people