REVIEW | Locksley Distillery Gin School – If you love gin you MUST to do this!
Why I loved Locksley Distillery Gin School, Sheffield
If you love gin, then DO THIS. There is literally nothing you could possibly dislike about this experience…. apart from a hangover the next day.
Worth paying a babysitter?
Ideally you want to be shipping the kids off to the grandparents for the night because you will not be wanting the 6am wakeup after the amount of gin you will consume.
The real ‘behind-the-scenes’ of small batch gin production, whilst sampling (lots of) very nice gin and learning about the torrid history of ‘mother’s ruin’. A fun night out where you walk away with a personalised bottle of juniper goodness to suit your own quirky taste buds….. What more could you possibly want?!
Value for money: (9 out of 10)
It’s £95 for the whole experience. Which although this sounds expensive, it includes a guided tour of the distillery, tasting and explanations along the way from your own tour guide / bar man Joe, and you make your own full 70cl bottle of gin at the end of the evening, so I felt it was definitely worth the price tag.
Setting the scene
“THIS IS THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!” my friend Kat yelled to me over the sound of a gently bubbling still with a massive gin grin on her face. For me, it probably doesn’t quite trump my wedding day or the birth of my babies, but it’s not far off! We became master mixologists, creating our own gin recipes before distilling ‘Madam Geneva’ in our own miniature stills.
Kat and I first met in a chemistry class when we were 16 and now live in the brilliant steel city together so it was only right that if I was going back to school Kat came with me. Especially if booze was involved.
A stone’s throw from Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane stadium, Locksley Distillery is based in one of the UK’s most important historical industrial buildings. Portland Works is often referred to as the birthplace of stainless steel cutlery manufacturing, but the grade 2* listed building is now a centre for independent artists, craftspeople….and a gin distillery!
The gin experience begins at 7pm, and on the dot our gin expert (ginspert?!) Joe popped his smiling face around the door and invited us and the small group gathered outside to step inside to begin our careers as master mixologists.
Joe led us through the maze of Portland Works up a steep flight of stairs to an exposed brick office which is home to Gladys, the giant still which is used to create Sir Robin of Locksley gin. It was here that Joe poured us our first taste of the sweet nectar and set to work covering the history of gin, from when the Dutch produced a sprit called “genever” by mixing a malt wine base with a hefty amount of juniper berries.
Joe’s lively and engaging story took us through the whole history, from the gin craze in the late 1600s when a pint of gin was cheaper than a pint of beer and every man and his wife was making gin in bathtubs at home (which we soon learnt why the spirit became known as “mother’s ruin”) through to the introduction of distillers license, with women dropping their babies because they were sozzled on gin as depicted in William Hogarth’s painting “Beer Street”.
Joe kept us all engaged and our thirst quenched, and we were slowly feeling the delicious raspberry and cardamom gin with tonic soften the edges.
I won’t give away everything Joe told us because it’s delightful and unexpected. I can guarantee that if you can hold the facts in your head after all the gin you drink over the course of an evening, you’ll definitely have a Pointless answer if you ever appear on the BBC quiz show!
Guided back downstairs to the newly built mini bar, we tried Old Tom, Navy Strength Old Tom (at 57.5% make sure you pay close attention to the special way Joe teaches you to drink it so you don’t burn your lips!) and Morocello, Locksley’s orange take on the limoncello. With our bellies full of gin and our heads full of gin knowledge (ginledge?!) it was time to turn our (slightly unsteady) hands to making our own spirit to take home.
The Gin School is stunning. Peering through the old windows into the most beautiful room, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. It is a cross between a school science lab and a bar, multiplied by a Willy Wonka’s factory vibe. It is the ideal Instagram aesthetic that will make your friends swoon over the hundreds of photos you will inevitably take.
Joe showed the six of us to an individual workstation and mini copper still each before giving us a whistlestop tour of the 60 botanicals contained in Kilner jars at our fingertips in front of us. We were advised to use 3 to 6 ingredients each to create our dream gin, depending on whether we prefer sweet, savory or sharp tastes.
I played it safe, opting for a citrus tone by choosing blood orange peel, lime peel and then sweetened by almond and pink pepper. After measuring the ingredients out, I added them to the still with the juniper and blend of herbs along with the alcohol to be distilled before sitting back to wait for my magic potion!
Once created, Joe makes your final drink of the evening, with your own concoction! My own gin tasted amazing. You can really taste the juniper and citrus flavours, and the end result was right up my street, I honestly love it.
I don’t know what Kat was thinking, but she opted for carob (a chocolatey taste), almond, all spice (!) and cassia. I really couldn’t think of a more disgusting combination, but that’s the beauty of this experience, you can tailor your gin to be your dream drink as it’s you who takes it home at the end of the night. Locksley keep your recipe on file so if you really love it you can commission them to make more!
This experience would be ideal for a special occasion like a hen do, birthday party or as a gift to someone who loves gin. You’ll have a lot of fun, loads of laugh and leave, staggering down the road clutching your very own bottle of gin.
To find out more visit: https://shop.locksleydistilling.com/product/locksley-distilling-gin-experience/
This is a Girl About review. I was invited by the management to experience the gin experience free of charge in exchange for an honest and frank review. All my opinions are my own and in no way have they been swayed by their kind invite. Girl About reviews are always 100% honest. We only publish reviews that, for the most part, are positive.
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