When my friend came down to London to visit me we decided to do something a bit different. I’d found out about the Beefeater Distillery Tour not long before and my friend was keen on the idea, even though she’s not the world’s biggest fan of gin. Personally I love the stuff, so I was well up for the tour.
We booked online and turned up at the venue, in Kennington in South London, with plenty of time. The first part of the tour was actually a self-guided wander around the on-site museum, which was well put together and very interesting. It covered the history of gin and the gin craze of the eighteenth century, with a large image of Hogarth’s famous “Gin Lane” picture to illustrate the drink’s reputation. I thought the exhibition did well in putting the growth of gin distilleries in its historical context, although implying that Beefeater’s founder James Burrough was on a par with the great scientists, inventors, artists and writers of the Victorian age was stretching things just a little.
I liked the exploration of gin’s role in the cocktail craze, too, with visual demonstrations of the different drinks it can be used in. There was also a wall of old Beefeater bottles and adverts. Obviously the whole thing is a massive promo for Beefeater, but it was genuinely fascinating too.
In the second part we were told all about how to make gin, and introduced to the different ingredients that make up this spirit.
During this time we could see the stills through the plates of glass: the inner workings of the distillery. Unlike my trip to Sipsmiths, it was disappointing not to be able to get up close to the machinery, but in fairness I imagine it’s a much trickier prospect in a big place like this.
The tour concluded with a G&T which was very tasty. I was good and didn’t buy any bottles of gin (it might have looked a bit suspicious trying to get one into the theatre later that evening when we went to see Aladdin) but I’m very tempted to go back for their distillery-exclusive blend.
Address: 20 Montford Place, Kennington, London, SE11 5DE
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-6pm (tours only; it’s advisable to book online)
Prices: £12 for adults (including a complimentary G&T), free for children (no G&T, obviously)