Bombay Sapphire's Laverstoke Mill opens

19 September, 2014

Bombay Sapphire’s long-awaited brand home, Laverstoke Mill, opened its doors to the trade on Wednesday to reveal a vast visitor centre that includes a glasshouse of botanicals, heated by the distillery’s stills.

The project, which has already won an award for its sustainability credentials, was four years in the making and sees production of Bombay Sapphire moved from G&J Distillers in Warrington to the Hampshire site.

Bacardi, which owns Bombay Sapphire, said the project cost ran into the multi-millions.

Production started at the former 10th century paper mill a year ago but has been ramped up over the last six months and currently makes up 80% of total output.

The distillery’s two copper pot stills, one of which is run on the energy created by burning expended botanicals, will be producing all of Bombay Sapphire's product in a month’s time.

The new bespoke glasshouses perch on top of the River Test, which runs through the centre of the restored 40-plus-building estate, and contain the 10 botanicals – juniper, lemon peel, grains of paradise, coriander, cubeb berries, orris root, almonds, cassia bark, liquorice, angelica – used in Bombay Sapphire.

Designer Thomas Heatherwick said the site, which had lain derelict for about ten years, was discovered when a colleague “climbed over a wall”. He described it as “an exceptional find”.

The project head added that rechanneling the River Test and restoring the 49 derelict buildings took the most work but said it was worth it as the vision was for something more than just a visitor centre.

Laverstoke Mill, will be the workplace of master distiller Nik Fordham, estate manager Will Brix and senior on-site brand manager Sam Carter, who playfully described the Laverstoke Mill's Empire Bar as “his new office”.

Along with the two glass houses, one of which is temperate, one tropical, there are rooms dedicated to sensorial exploration and tours of the distillery will also be part of the visitor experience.

Brix thanked Bacardi for its support, especially during a period of global recession. He said: “There are few companies that would back such an ambitious project.”

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