Bath Botanical Gin Distillery - Review
Posted on: 2017-05-04
Could Widcombe’s making be mother's ruin?
I saw Bath Botanics as I was walking along Prior Park Road. It used to be a double garage and now it’s a shop and gin distillery. I crossed over and looked in the window at some pretty copper pots and dried herbs.
Inside it’s done up like an old Apothecary shop with shelves supporting neatly arranged bottles of coloured liquid, all behind a large counter.
The owner, distiller and proprietor of the shop is Sue, who welcomes all visitors to sample the gin and elixirs that she herself makes on the premises, for at the end of the shop is a magnificent copper sill.
Twice a week she moonshines producing what she has called No 1 Gin. This is a combination of nine ‘botanicals’ (herbs), steeped for 24 hours before being distilled. In addition to this, several fruit gins are created by steeping organic fruit in No 1 Gin. But how, I wondered, could I sample several gins, for this review, without passing out? Sue has the matter in hand. On a table top are several jars of gins and elixirs, clearly marked as to the flavour. Next to them are two jars with straws in them. One with fresh straws, one with those that have been used. You dip one end of the straw into the jar of gin and put a finger over the top of the straw, this creates suction and so a little bit of gin goes up the straw and stays there until you have popped it in your mouth and released the gin. This is quite enough to get the flavour. I tried Gooseberry which was mellow, Raspberry that was sweet, but my favourite was White Willow – sour and smokey – but all with that gin tang.
Sue explained that she had recently graduated from the University of Middlesex with a degree in Herbal Medicine (after doing many other interesting things) and had taken a particular interest in a concoction called ‘Bitters’. Now, I know what that is from my childhood when I too took an interest in my parents’ bottle of Bitters, a funny looking little black bottle covered in a label with writing all over it; not a thing I’ve seen on sale for years. I tried taking a swig (you are only supposed to add a drop or two to the old G&T), a traumatic experience that I’d rather not talk about. However, Sue explained that these distillations were originally prepared for their medicinal benefits and this, if you think about it, is the origin of most spirits and many wines. As an extension of the medicinal theme she also prepares herb teas, sold in decorative packets.
Amongst the other lovely things for sale in the shop are tiny, cut crystal glasses that really show the appropriate quantities for medicinal elixir consumption. There is not a bottle of tonic in sight, no, because like good brandy, good gin is best drunk neat. The only mix Sue suggested was a small dose of Raspberry gin to lift an otherwise cheap Prosecco. Good idea and I look forward to trying that and a new gin she will be distilling shortly, when the flowers are out – Elderflower gin.
There are three sizes of gin bottle starting from £6 to £29.50. Or, you might try the deal on – four small bottles of fruit gin for £20, they would make a very nice present if you aren’t tempted yourself.
Find the Bath Botanical Gin Distillery on Facebook here.
Vicky is involved with the local arts community, teaching performing arts and also writing theatre/circus reviews. She's been living and happily eating her way round Bath for 12 years. And in her words "I mean to go on as I started!"