If you’ve followed me for any length of time at all, you’ll probably know just how much I love gin. It’s a drink I never used to ‘get’ and I genuinely couldn’t understand what there was to like about it. Fast forward a couple of years though and I’m obsessed. I don’t think I can tell you how many different gins i’ve tried or how much money i’ve spent on G&T’s, it’s quite simply one of life’s finer things for me!
So a couple of weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to visit the distillery of one of my favourite local gins, Burleigh’s and it was every gin lovers dream! As someone that loves to discover new things, it’s safe to say i’m a bit of a gin ‘buff’ and I know so many facts about the stuff I sometimes think I should write a book (joking obviously!). The Burleigh’s gin tour, however, aims to teach you all about their individual production techniques and gives an insight into how they get their product out on the shelves.
We were greeted with a lovely gin and tonic served in one of their own copa glasses, complete with garnishes to boot. The particular gin used was their ‘Signature’ London Dry Gin and was served with a fresh orange wedge and plenty of ice. They also served it with the new Schwepps premium tonic which I had yet to try. I’m still a Fevertree girl at heart and I love experimenting with different brands but this was still a nice mixer and let the gin and the orange come through nicely. As a little side note, London Dry doesn’t actually have anything to do with the ‘dryness’ of the gin, it is actually a method of producing gin that has been going for years and years!
Our tour started with their huge copper pot still, affectionately named ‘Messy Bessy’. This is where all the real magic happens! It’s a floor to ceiling, custom-made device that has a capacity of 450 litres, which may sound big to us average joes, but is in fact quite small in the world of gin distillery. The design of this copper pot has been crafted to maximise the flavour of the gin and even to remove some of those nasty sulphites that can cause us to feel rather ‘worse-for-wear’ the next morning.
The botanicals, water and pure alcohol are popped into the still and the temperature is increased and so begins the process of making gin. In the UK to legally be ‘gin’ there are two key factors. Firstly, the alcohol has to be at least 37.5% ABV and secondly, the main flavour of the gin has to be juniper. As part of the tour, we were shown some of the botanicals that go into the Burleigh’s range and some were definitely more unusual than others! I for one did not know that Silver Birch could even go in a gin!?
After producing the actual flavours of the gin, of course we need to bottle all that good stuff and believe it or not, this is all done by hand! Cleaning the bottles, actually bottling the gin, applying the labels and popping in the cork is all done by two people on site. For me this personal touch really appeals as it shows how much love and care go into each individual bottle and it’s nice to know that you’re not just getting something that’s mass produced.
Finally, we got to go and check out the full range of gins they had to offer. Of course we’ve already mentioned the ‘signature’ range which is quite a fresh number with notes of eucalyptus, pine and citrus. This has an ABV of 40% which, from past experience, is about standard for a more niche gin. They also produce an Export Strength gin which follows the same recipe as the Signature but has an ABV of 47% this is perfect for popping in cocktails when you don’t want the flavour of the gin to be masked or even just for those who like a stronger tasting gin. Personally, I don’t usually opt for gins with such a high ABV% as I find it a bit overpowering.
The Distillers Cut was a really lovely gin as this was a softer and more floral flavour. With hints of violet and a slight hint of pepper, this was a real winner for me and something I can definitely see myself drinking! The Burleigh’s pink edition was actually the first gin i’d tried from them. With Japanese Cherry Blossom, hibiscus, rose and pink grapefruit, it really is a very unique flavour. I had this with Fevertree Aromatic tonic and a wedge of pink grapefruit and it was to die for!
The final gin was a real surprise to me and it’s their Leicester City Football Club edition! It follows on from Leicester’s win in the Premier League and the fact that they wanted to celebrate the amazing things the city had to offer. Strangely, it is inspired by a pork pie, but don’t worry ‘inspired’ is the key word here. Thyme, sage and nutmeg provide a herbal flavour and make this similar to Mediterranean style gins such as Gin Mare. This was possibly my favourite and I’m hoping to get my hands on a bottle of this (and maybe a pink) for Christmas!
As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed my trip to the Burleigh’s gin distillery, I’ve got my eye on their gin school and I really hope to head back there in the future. Tickets for the tour cost £20 per person and are available on Wednesday evenings throughout the year.
Do you like gin? Please leave me suggestions to your favourites below as I always want to discover new brands!
*Tour provided for PR.