A tour of London's oldest gin distillery.
London has had a long and torturous relationship with gin, which perhaps explains why we’ve been so slow to openly celebrate the juniper-infused spirit in any way other than glugging loads of it and then having a cry. Which is obviously the best way to celebrate it. Nonetheless, Edinburgh has its Scotch Whisky Experience, Dublin has the Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Brewery; while there are a couple of specialist bars and smaller distilleries where gin-loving Londoners can learn a little more, a major attraction is well overdue.
Step forward the venerable Beefeater. Its Kennington distillery has opened a small on-site ‘experience’.The distillery is not a big building: the self-guided tour will take maybe half an hour, a bit longer if you borrow an iPad laden with additional supporting information.
The best section is the first, a replica of a Hogarthian street in which you learn about the heady days of the eighteenth-century Gin Craze, as the government tried desperately to rein in an unregulated industry that threatened to swamp London.
There’s fun facts and figures throughout, even if some of the themed areas feel a bit tenuous – the thing I’ll take away from the Prohibition section is that gin didn’t have much to do with Prohibition.
But as a light, slick overview of the history of Mother’s Ruin it’s very respectable, and refrains from really hammering home the Beefeater propaganda until the final stretch (where we also get to take a brief but interesting peek into the distillery itself). And, of course, there’s a crisp and not ungenerous G&T to finish with – worth a good chunk of your £12 ticket, and the perfect way to wind up this modest but worthwhile attraction.
|Venue name:||Beefeater Distillery||Contact:|
20 Montford Place
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Bank holidays 11am-4pm|
|Price:||£12, £10.80 concs|
|Do you own this business?|
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A great tour which is well priced at £12.
The tour lasts around one hour. The first half hour is self led and is spent exploring the history of Gin in London before it moves into Beefeater and its history which is very interesting. The tour guide then takes your through how Beefeater is made with samples of the ingredients. Through the glass roof you are shown the distillery and talked through the distilling process before being given your own Gin and tonic in the "The Still House" bar (which tastes amazing after learning about the process!)
There's a gift store with some cool gifts like Gin glasses Etc.
A great experience especially for the price!
Did this tour yesterday. It's really interesting, but they have a fair few teething problems to sort out, and they don't allow nearly enough time for the tour.
Our guide Andrew was great: so knowledgeable and obviously enthused about the subject, but he kept getting calls on his pager/walkie talkie instructing him to hurry up! The last one was telling him to tell us we
had to leave the bar area to allow for the next group - when hardly anyone had finished their G&Ts! This was in no way his fault, and he had so much interesting information still to tell us, but he wasn't being allowed to by the overly-strict supervisors and insufficient time slots. We are extremely glad that we didn't pay the extra £3 for the iPads, as there was not enough time as it was to fully absorb the information on the boards and interactive screens before the guided part of the tour started.
Hopefully these are just teething problems and maybe they will review the first few weeks of operation and decide to allow more time for the tour. They should either have longer opening hours or run fewer tours each day. It’s also silly not employing someone else to prepare the drinks at the end rather than it being an additional job for the tour guide.
Otherwise, this is an excellent addition to London's tourism.