30 May 2017

Finding Inspiration at Bombay Sapphire Distillery, Laverstoke

 Laverstoke Mill, Bombay Sapphire Distillery, designed by Heatherwick Studio

Everyone has a different source of inspiration. Mat for instance has a proper love for inhouse magazines, which you’ll see popping up on more or less any post he does about weekend relaxing or long train journeys.

My inspiration comes mainly from those people I follow online. Those folks who regularly post content that captivates me for longer than the usual split-second, opens my mind a little, and leaves me slightly jealous of their creative eye and ability. I can’t name check everyone here; but, folks like our friend Jordan and our very own Yasumi definitely deserve a mention their ability to capture different angles and interesting details in everyday objects is impressive beyond belief.

And then there’s Haarkon; an account I’ve been following religiously for the past few months, checking in every time they have a new Instagram post or blog. These guys have an incredible eye and their content focused almost exclusively on indoor plant life has a hauntingly beautiful quality that will stop you in your tracks.

Recently, I tried to mimic their style with my own pic (hey imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!) and then, when the opportunity came to visit the glasshouses at the Bombay Sapphire distillery, I saw my chance to try and emulate them just a little more.

I’m sure many people reading this will have caught a glimpse of the Bombay Sapphire distillery before. It features two striking glasshouses, designed by Heatherwick Studio (the guys behind the new London Routemaster bus), that seem to grow from the bed of the river that runs through the distillery. Twisting and turning their way into the red brick buildings of this former paper mill, it’s as if these glasshouses are an integral part of the gin making process, drawing up the water for the gin and imparting the essence of the plants they house as it sweeps passed.

They aren’t directly part of the process; but, the glasshouses are a perfect reflection of the gin making method, where a neutral spirit is transformed into something flavourful through the introduction of various botanicals; which in the case of Bombay Sapphire include liquorice, orris root, angelica, coriander, grains of paradise, and five others.


Housing these botanicals, the glasshouses give visitors a glimpse into the natural ingredients that impart their flavour on the spirit. That’s rare for a distillery, where the highly mechanised process can often seem quite dull and sterile - and the ingredients are hidden away in the cargo crates and locked behind closed doors. The glasshouses are also an insight into the Bombay Sapphire brand itself a representation of the brand’s ethos and what they’re working hard to achieve.

The distillery is a serious investment. An old paper mill, made up of an eclectic mix of houses, warehouses, and other buildings; it surely would have been easier for Bombay to knock this all down and start again. But, they didn’t. Instead, they’re refurbishing the old buildings and integrating them with the modern elements of a proper visitor attraction; showcasing the brand’s history and heritage, along with its present day form.

The glasshouses are an obvious indication of this approach; as too is the Empire Bar - a huge horseshoe of stainless steel, protruding from a solid wall of Bombay Sapphire’s easily recognisable bright blue bottles. Here, you’re introduced to their full range of gins and also the finished drinks that suit them best. For me, that’s a gin and tonic and, although Sam Carter (Bombay Sapphire’s senior ambassador) guided us through a selection of cocktails, his perfect G&T will be the main lesson I take away.

One wedge of lime, squeezed, a tonne of ice, 50ml of gin and 100ml of tonic, carefully folded together with a bar spoon. It seems simple and it is but, the correct quantity of ice and the folding of the drink (rather than stirring) brings an added dimension to this drink that a lot of bars fail to replicate. I spent the hour train ride back to London just wishing I had a glass and some ice - and hoping that I managed to do those glasshouses justice.

You’ll find Bombay Sapphire Distillery in Laverstoke, Hampshire. The nearest train station is Overton an hour’s direct train ride from London Waterloo. Prices and info on their different distillery tour packages can be found here.

This post is in partnership with Bombay Sapphire. Thank you for taking the time to support the brands + businesses that make this blog happen.


  1. wow, i am in love with the architecture

  2. That is ARCHITECTURE! Very cool use of form for part of a distillery.

  3. Just catching up on your blog, and glad I spotted this one.
    The juxtaposition between old and new works really well here.

    Thomas Heatherwick/Heatherwick Studio have done such a range of projects that really tick (my) boxes as an design fan (particularly the Rolling Bridge in London). You should check out the designs for the new Google Kings Cross building too.

  4. Wow, what an amazing looking building.


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