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LONELY PLANET’S UK DISTILLERY TOUR

WORDS: RACHEL MCCORMACK, KARYN NOBLE, LORNA PARKES, LAURA RICHARDS. PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF THE BATH DISTILL

If the inhabitants of the British Isles are regarded as drinkers, well, who can blame them when they’re so spoilt? From world-famous Scotch, and Irish whiskeys to London and Plymouth gin, the number of distilleries in the UK has more than doubled over the past five years. The entrepreneurial floodgates were pushed open in 2009, when London-based gin-maker Sipsmith was granted a licence to distil after two years of campaigning for a change in laws that had been in place since the 1751 Gin Act. Smallbatch distilling was back on the agenda, and craft booze-making took off. You’ll now find distilleries in unlikely spots, from John o’ Groats to a car park in east London. The tour starts here - take it easy!

THE BATH DISTIELERY, SOMERSET

Drink from bottles labelled with a winking Jane Austen - sorry, ‘Gin Austen’ - at the Bath Gin Company, a multistorey experience offBath Spa’s cobbled streets. Despite the historic setting and literary reference, this gin veers away from tradition, dialling down juniper and amping up botanicals such as kaffir lime and liquorice. A tour of the basement distillery is short and sweet, but it can be combined with a botanicals workshop in the first-floor Distiller’s Bar, a colourful space for gin blending - and you’ll leave with a filled hip flask. However, it’s the Canary Bar that attracts most attention: a cocktail joint with a Victorian aesthetic and 230 gins in stock (including Bath’s own). The drinks are as playful as that bottle; try the Jane’s Garden, where gin meets cucumber and elderflower. thebathgincompany.co.uk

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