I'm rather late posting for Five on Friday today - it's been one of those weeks! I'm sure there are lots of interesting posts on Amy's blog already, perhaps you've been enjoying them.
My five relate to a trip to a distillery making Bombay Sapphire Gin. The reason for our visit was not the gin, honest but another of designer Thomas Heatherwick's constructions on the premises. I am rather a fan of his.
It's all rather modern even though the distillary is situated on an historic site. You have to book your ticket in advance and can choose an escorted tour or a self guided one. When you arrive, you type the code you got online into the machine to get a personal interactive guide which has a gadget on the back to activate various recorded stories and turnstiles plus order a free drink/gift.
I didn't know very much about gin but it starts life as a neutral spirit made from grain which is 97% alcohol and imported from France. It is then watered down to 85%, placed in huge copper stills and heated by steam so that it vapourises and passes through a secret combination of botanicals - juniper, coriander, lemon peel, angelica, orris root, licquorice, almond, cassia bark, cubeb berries and grains of paradise. It has now turned into gin and is then condensed into liquid gin and stored. Distillers check it tastes as it should at the beginning and end of the process as there is usually a period when it doesn't meet the stringent taste requirements and it is diverted to a different tank and sold to the perfume industry. The gin is still 85% proof at this point and will be transported to the plant at Warrington to be diluted to 40% ready for consumption.
The Botanical Dry Room is a great place where all the ingredients are laid out for you to see and sniff! You can even punch your interactive guide (the paper one, not the tour guide!) when you find a smell you particularly like!
Following the tour, you can visit the Mill bar where they will whip up a cocktail for you using the flavours that you selected after all that sniffing. I opted for a soft drink and chose a Rhubarb Refresher. Delicious! I was quite surprised to find that no rhubarb had been used at all but it was a combination of vanilla seed sugar syrup, cloudy apple, cranberry and lemon juice. In fact all the cocktails looked great and were masquerading as a different flavour!
As I didn't try the gin in the cocktail, I collected a free sample of gin and tonic to take home, too cute to open. They also had some delicious chocolate cake and coffee. Yum!
I'll tell you about the Heatherwick bit and the historic buildings tomorrow.
Have a good week.