Summer is coming and there is no time like now to sip a glass of wine, drink ‘a pint of your finest’, or enjoy some gin to celebrate England’s vast array of breweries, vineyards and distilleries. With a host of virtual celebrations coming up, everyone can get a taste of the action, even from home whilst planning a future visit…
From marking World Gin Day on 13 June with a brilliantly blended G&T or enjoying a perfect pint for National Beer Day on 15 June to celebrating English Wine Week (20 – 28 June) with a sumptuous tipple, these online tours, virtual experiences and bookable vouchers provide a unique glimpse into the history, heritage and taste of England’s brewers and vintners.
Marked globally on the second Saturday of June and founded in England, World Gin Day celebrates the processes associated with distilling natural grains with juniper berries and other botanicals.
See Sipsmith from your home – Chiswick, London
Since launching the first small copper-pot distillery in London for 189 years in 2009, Sipsmith now creates a number of award-winning gins that are shipped all over the world. If you’re a fan of the spirit, you can tour its Chiswick Distillery for free online, guided by founder Sam Galsworthy and Master Distiller Jared Brown. Having petitioned for a change to historic English law to enable the use of a small still when first setting up the business in 2008, the move paved the way for hundreds of small distillers all over England.
Delve into the history of Bombay Sapphire – Hampshire
Renowned for its glasshouses and home to more than 1,000 years of history, the Bombay Sapphire distillery building at Laverstoke Mill in the heart of Hampshire is just as impressive as the gin it produces. The site of a mill since 903AD, and with a listing as a corn mill in the Domesday Book of 1086, the site was transformed to open as a distillery in 2014. Sitting within a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Conservation Area, the modern glasshouses of the distillery juxtapose with the surrounding Georgian and Victorian architecture, while the neighbouring River Test has created a vibrant habitat for native species. While you’re waiting to visit you can tour it online and delve deep into its rich history.
Get a gin day in the diary with a virtual gin school experience at Hotham’s Gin School – Hull
Join Hotham’s Gin School online classes from the comfort of your own home for a fun and interactive gin experience… Learn the art of distilling and watch Hotham’s experts distil your bespoken bottle of gin! Once you book your experience your Hotham’s Hamper will be delivered to your door, then you and your guests will experience a Virtual Gin School event with the Head Distiller, who will distil your bespoken bottle of gin, label it with the name of your choice and post it to you a few days later The interactive event will also include a gin-tasting session and opportunity to connect with other gin lovers. Price: £150 for two
Taste ‘G&Tea’ with Moorland Pottery – Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent is known as the world capital of ceramics thanks to its pottery-making heritage, while Staffordshire is famous for its oatcakes. So, how about a tipple combining both? Moorland Pottery now combines a craft gin and ceramics – an ‘oatcake gin’ in a glass bottle featuring its iconic ‘Stokie Ware’ artwork, as well as a bottle kiln-shaped ceramic bottle. It also sells an Oatcake Tea – created by a master blender using oat flowers for a uniquely flavoured tea – so what better combination for an unusual tipple than a ‘G & Tea’; gin in a bottle kiln-shaped plus a canister of Oatcake Tea? Visit Moorland Pottery’s page to get some Stokie Oatcake Tea and Gin for the coolest way to get your oats.
Drink Norwich gin responsibly with Eco Pouch refills – Norwich
When your bottles run low all you need to do is switch to letterbox friendly ‘Eco Pouch’ refills. Simply pour the gin from the pouch into your Bullards bottle at home and then post the empty pouch (no envelope or stamp required) in any royal mail post box and they will be returned to the distillery to recycle. Bullards is Norwich’s only gin distillery, tracing its roots in the city back 180 years. Bullards three gins are distilled on site at the Ten Bells in a beautiful copper still that forms a focal point for the main seating area. Choose from new Old Tom gin, London Dry or flavoured Strawberry & Black Pepper.
National Beer Day on 15 June delves into the history and heritage of the drink that so many people know and love. Supported by the British Beer and Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale, among others, it is a celebration of what is being created at breweries across the nation.
Get your ‘Survival Box’ delivered by Lymestone Brewery – Staffordshire
Staffordshire’s award-winning family run ‘micro brewery’ Lymestone Brewery has launched a home bottle delivery service and introduced a very popular ‘Survival Box’. Housed in an old brewery dating back over 150 years, with an on-site brewery taproom, it produces a range of cask ales and seasonal brews, and runs brewery tours, offering a chance to sample its beers and check out the brewery. While pubs and the tours are, of course, closed for the time being, you can still try out the beers, with Lymestone now taking orders online for a range of beers, cask ales and mixed cases. And their special offer, ‘The Survival Box’ containing 10 Beers, two glasses, two packets of crisps, a couple of beer mats and a good old ‘Spot The Difference’, has been selling out fast. ‘The Survival Box’ costs £25.
Immerse yourself in a world of beer with Meantime Brewery tour – Greenwich, London
Having celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2019, Meantime Brewery has grown considerably since launching on a small industrial estate in Charlton. Now found in Greenwich, South London, it produces a tasty array of lagers, pale ales and India pale ales (IPA), as well as a limited edition set of seasonal products every year. The brewery’s immersive tour allows you to explore its site from anywhere in the world, or to think of visiting next time you’re in London discovering the neighbouring UNESCO World Heritage Site of maritime Greenwich, which is packed with the Royal Observatory, the Queen’s House and the buildings of the Royal Naval College.
Explore Abbeydale Brewery with Google Maps – Sheffield
From its location in the centre of Sheffield’s Antiques Quarter, Abbeydale Brewery can brew up to 15 different beers at any one time. Although not usually open to the public, it has a virtual tour thanks to Google Maps and also operates two brew pubs in the city. The brewery’s logo, like its name, was inspired by the frontage of Beauchief Abbey, a medieval monastic house that is now partially restored as a parish church.
Enjoy a fully interactive 3D tour of Greene King – Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
With heritage dating back to 1799, Greene King’s historic Westgate brewery in Bury St Edmunds is a sight to behold. A fully interactive 3D tour of the 1930s art deco building is available online. Giving you a state-of-the art peak into the intricacies of beer making, not to mention its striking marble floors and vast giant copper mash tuns, it’s the ideal prelude to returning in person for a tasting session in the future!
Normally held in late May to the start of June, English Wine Week plans to return between 20 and 28 June to celebrate the hundreds of vineyards that operate all over England. It’s a chance to discover new flavours and to imagine wandering among the ripening vines as the year’s crop grows at pace. With more than 550 vineyards across the UK, the majority can be found in England – and especially in the south – where the topography, soil and climate provide ideal growing conditions for sparkling wines.
Try Black Chalk English sparkling wine now and visit the vineyards later for tour and tasting experience – Hampshire
Hampshire-based Black Chalk Wine, which specialises in English sparkling wine, is not only offering free delivery on orders, but when you buy three or more bottles, you’ll be invited for a free tour of the Black Chalk vineyards (when travel restrictions are lifted). Situated on the banks of the Test River, Black Chalk, produces and sells top quality wines, and also offers tours around the vineyards, followed by a tasting of its current range of wines. For valid sales, buyers will get a voucher for two people for a free tour and tasting, so you can plan a trip for when we’re all able to travel again. Black Chalk has plenty more treats in the pipeline too. A new winery is currently being built, and a neighbouring woodland is set to become home to a new development of boutique, ultra-luxury treehouses operated by Wild Escapes, which will overlook the vineyard. Price: Tour and tasting from £18 per person
Join In-House series for virtual talks and conversations with winemakers by Newcomer Wines – Dalston, London
In-House is a series of virtual talks and conversations with winemakers from the Kiffe and Newcomer fold, designed to encourage real connections, personal stories and cultural exchange. Every Wednesday at 3pm throughout June they will host three winemakers and discuss a different topic each time, from preserving heritage grape varieties, through to what we can learn from ‘slow’ winemaking and returning to a simpler way of life. Don’t forget to stock up on the supplies too, Newcomer offers fast delivery on all of their 250+ wines and beers.
Take a look behind the scenes of Woodchester Valley Vineyard – Cotswolds
Vineyards across the northern hemisphere start to spring into life in May/June, as the first small bunches of grapes begin to appear. While you aren’t able to visit just yet, you can take a look behind the scenes into the everyday workings of an English vineyard, with a short virtual tour of the Woodchester Valley Vineyard. Located in the heart of the picturesque Cotswolds countryside, you can glean an insight into the world of winemaking and the processes involved, and get dreaming of when you can tour its lush green fields in future.
TO MIX THINGS UP…
Treat yourself to private whisky tasting with Milroy’s – Soho, London
Established in 1964, Milroy’s, the ‘original whisky specialist’ is now offering a Zoom whisky tasking experience from the comfort of your own home, with everything provided to your doorstep. You will be able to choose from three possible themes to suit your interest. During your private online tasting you’ll be guided through the most interesting selection sourced by Milroy’s specialists and you will learn all about the world of whisky, while enjoying a unique taste experience. Price: Home tasting kit from £35
Taste Derbyshire run from White Peak Distillery – Derby
You might not be able to visit its Victorian distillery and see ‘Betty’ a 600 litre spirits still, at the White Peak Distillery, but you can still enjoy award-winning spirits. Making its own bit of Derbyshire history – in a distillery housed in a former wire works in the Derwent Valley, a World Heritage Site for its role in the industrial revolution – it was the region’s first full-scale, craft distillery. First came Shining Cliff gin, followed by the county’s first single malt whisky using English barley… and new for 2020, there’s now Derbyshire rum, all distilled and aged on site. And for a post lockdown treat, make a date to see ‘Betty” by buying a tour voucher for any future available date. Price: Tours from £15 per person