Tucked away off Fleet Street is the City of London Distillery, enter through a side street and go down into the atmospheric bar. The walls are lined with the gins they produce, two of which have just won extremely prestigious awards at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition – the Christopher Wren Gin and the Square Mile Gin. This gives you an idea of how seriously they take their gin distilling after returning to production in 2012 following an absence of nearly 200 years from the City.
It’s a great bar for an after work drink, with very attentive and knowledgeable bar staff and a fantastic backdrop of the stills, behind glass, used to produce the gin.
They also run a ‘Gin Lab Experience’ which was my reason for first visiting the distillery – a 2 hour crash course in how to make gin. It is a brilliant evening where you are talked through the history of gin and given a whole selection of botanicals to explore and decide upon your own unique recipe. You weigh out meticulously the botanicals and transfer to the stills in the ‘Gin Lab’, where you nurture your gin throughout the distillation process, taking tastings (but not too many) and deciding when to make the cut. Finally, comes the bottling – choosing a label and a name and sealing the bottle in bright red wax. All of this lubricated by delicious gin and tonics, sampling the City of London’s finest.
I haven’t opened my bottle yet (you have to wait a few days for the botanicals to settle) but am already planning my next trip back to the bar.
Whether you’re looking for a fun birthday present or just a new after work haunt, the City of London Distillery is well worth a visit!