Drinks News

Gin trains, hotels and festivals

What's next for the unstoppable spirit?

By Emma Breheny
Elderflower G&T
Gin's rise and rise as the drink of choice among connoisseurs of every age could have something to do with the irresistibly fun experiences distillers are creating.
Bombay Sapphire is bringing back its gin train, the Laverstock Express, this time offering curious drinkers in London a chance to experience each one of their gin's 10 botanicals through a "Grand Journey" of food, drink and virtual travel. The plush royal blue carriages of the train were last seen in Amsterdam in December 2016.
On-board the Laverstock Express. (Photo: Bombay Sapphire)
Just in time for G&T season in the northern hemisphere, the Laverstock Express will be at Bank station in the City of London for one week this July, with Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers (Restaurant Story, ex-Per Se, ex-Noma) crafting a 10-course menu that explores the botanicals used in each bottle of Bombay Sapphire. The British distiller sources ingredients from as far afield as Java and Ghana.
As well as transporting passengers with Sellers' menu and a list of gin cocktails, the Laverstock Express will feature a virtual reality experience that mimics the journey of lemon peel from Spain, Italy's juniper berries and Chinese liquorice from raw ingredient to perfectly balanced tipple.
Elsewhere in London, a gin hotel - The Distillery - opened in 2016, featuring a micro-distillery, gin museum, specialist gin shop, two bars and restaurants as well as three boutique rooms. The hotel was opened in Portobello Road by the founders of Portobello Road Gin and The Ginstitute.
Closer to home, gin lovers are indulging in similarly off-the-wall events, with Hendricks designing an hour-long interactive theatre event in Sydney earlier in June to "reawaken your natural spirit and curiosity", in partnership with the independent Siren Theatre Co, while Tasmanian distillery Forty Spotted was seen at the Dark Mofo's Winter Feast pouring G&T tea cocktails and chai and gin hot toddies. Come October, Junipalooza festival will return to Melbourne (via London) for its second year, featuring over 40 distillers, masterclasses, a bar and a one-stop gin shop in the historic Meat Market buildings.
There's never been a better time to be a gin drinker.