Berkshire Bontanical bottles lines up on table
Live like a local

Just the tonic: discover local gin distilleries

September 16, 2022

Thanks to the UK’s recent ‘ginaissance’, fine versions of this quintessentially British spirit abound. Each local gin distillery has its own character and specialties – we’ve handpicked some of the best nearby to explore during your stay at Coworth Park.

Where it all started

Who do we need to thank for bringing gin to our shores? It’s the Dutch. Dr Sylvius de la Boea created the tipple in the late 1500s ‘gin’ derives from jeneverbes, the Dutch for its key ingredient, juniper.  English soldiers developed a taste for gin while fighting in the Netherlands (hence the phrase Dutch courage), and brought it home on their return. By the mid-1700s, the drink was so popular in Britain that it led to a public disorder crisis, resulting in regulation, improved quality and the popularity ofgin palace’ bars.

Detail shot of juniper berries on plant
Copper distillery machine

Making a mark

While UK gin brands including Beefeater, Tanqueray and Boodles were founded in the 1800s, rules established in 2008 allowed smaller, independent producers such as Berkshire Botanical to pop up. This distillery is based on the Yattendon Estate in west Berkshire – one of the UK’s largest Christmas tree growers. Inspired by its locale, it uses Norway spruce to great effect, as shown by the fact that its dry gin won a double gold medal at the International Spirits Challenge 2022. Nearby, Newbury’s 137 Distillery also made a splash when it was shortlisted for The Gin Guide’s Distillery of the Year Award 2019 just a year after opening.

Berkshire Botanical, Unit 9, Child’s Court Farm, Ashampstead Common, Berkshire RG8 8QT
137 Distillery, 29 Parkway, Parkway Shopping Centre, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 1AY

Ones to watch

Innovation is the name of the game in today’s gin world. Take Berkshire Botanical, for example. This artisan distiller crafts its wares with handpicked juniper berries, then infuses them with flavour combinations like rhubarb and raspberry, honey and orange blossom, or dandelion and burdock. They’re available at Yattendon Village Stores, and you’ll recognise them thanks to beautifully-illustrated bottles which depict badgers and owls dressed in tweed – founder Pete Lumber commissioned a Bristol graffiti artist to design the label motifs. 

Yattendon Village Stores, 1 The Square, Yattendon, Thatcham, Berkshire RG18 0UF

Berkshire Bontanical Rhubard and Raspberry Gin bottle
Collection of Bombay Sapphire Gin bottles

Get behind-the-scenes

What’s better than a behind-the-scenes distillery tour, with a G&T in hand and the scent of cucumber in the air? Enjoy this experience by heading to Gorilla Spirits Co. in nearby Hampshire. Andy Daniels established the ethical distillery in 2011, vowing to donate £1 to The Gorilla Organisation for every bottle sold to help protect gorillas from poachers and habitat loss in Africa. On your trip, you’ll get up close to the distillery’s hand-built Mugwaneza still and discover how the team use it to distil gin. And if that hasn’t quenched your thirst for knowledge, Bombay Sapphire also does tours.

Gorilla Spirits Co., The Workshop, Manor Farm Yard, Upton Grey Road, Upton Grey, Basingstoke, Hampshire RG25 2RQ
Bombay Sapphire, Laverstoke Mill, London Road, Whitchurch, Hampshire RG28 7NR

Mix like a pro

It’s never too late to go back to school gin school, that is. Discover how gin is made in 137 Distillery’s new tasting room, designed for events for up to 16 guests or for private hire. You can also sip a G&T during a masterclass hosted by Gorilla Spirits Co., during which you’ll mix two cocktails in the venue’s hidden speakeasy bar. Or you could design your own flavour, bottle and label to take home with you.

Silverblack Gin bottles on table

Want to try a different tipple? Explore Berkshire’s English wine scene and the secrets of wine pairing.

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