The Bombay Sapphire
Posted on November 1, 2015
When brown signs for the Bombay Sapphire arrived all over Basingstoke a while ago, I have to admit that I initially thought it was a new Indian restaurant somewhere in Overton.
However, knowing Indian restaurants after being involved with them in the past in a professional capacity, I am aware of how ferociously they protect their cash and brown sign posts are not cheap; in fact, they range between 8 to 40 thousand pounds for a single sign.
That is a lot of Vindaloo.
It is also a lot of Gin, but when you visit this impressive distillery in the heart of the Hampshire countryside, you soon get to realise what a huge business this is.
Sampling Gin at The Bombay Sapphire
We started the day with a cocktail before entering a room where a young chap showed us how to make two separate Gin cocktails that, on empty stomachs, made us all a bit tipsy.
He was a good host but when he tried a couple of semi-sexist Gin jokes, he lacked belief, a bit like a man who had discovered that Germaine Greer was in the room just as he reached the punchline. It was a fine example that if you can’t deliver a sexist joke with authority, you are better off bailing out all together.
We left the ‘Gin Masterclass’ a little giggly and proceeded on a tour of the impressive building and into the distillery area where the action takes place, via two huge and pristine copper stills.
The explanation of the process was excellent and it was then it dawned on me how they could afford the brown signs scattered all around Basingstoke…the distillery runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and produces 34 million bottles of Gin a year!
Here is another thing. On the pipes there are little HMRC contraptions that monitor every millilitre of Gin that passes through. For every bottle of Gin, the HMRC help themselves to £12:00 for their coffers.
34 million x £12:00…I’ll let you do the maths.
Wouldn’t it be great if they could attach similar contraptions to Starbucks or on the data cables of Vodafone and Amazon?
We finished the tour with another complimentary cocktail and reflected on the fact that we now knew a lot more about Gin than we did before, which admittedly, in my case, was not much.
I also learnt why the smell Gin always reminds me of the Silvikrin hairspray my mother used to spray on her head. It is because remnants of Gin are used to make hairspray and most other perfume and after-shave products for that matter.
People from around the globe come to visit the Bombay Sapphire distillery every day…for most of you reading this, it is on your doorstep, so really should go, as it is a very interesting couple of hours.