The “Gin and Tonic” is one of the most English drinks in existence. It should come as no surprise, then, that the best distilleries in England are often focused on gin distillation. From Beefeater Gin to Plymouth Gin, the best distilleries in England draw on centuries of history when crafting the perfect gins.
But while gin is as English as it gets, “English Whiskey” isn’t a phrase you hear spoken much. Trust us, though, when we say that England is home to some of the United Kingdom’s most exciting whiskey distilleries. English whiskey is currently seeing a renaissance, and many of the leading distillers are harnessing a long history of gin distillation to prepare a range of exciting spirits!
With so many gin and whiskey distilleries to visit, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we decided to compile our list of the top distilleries in England for you. Visit these fascinating and often historic distillation sites, and there’s no doubt you’re going to have an incredible time sipping your way through England!
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The 15 Best Distilleries in England
1. Beefeater Gin Distillery, London
Beefeater claims to distill the “World’s Most Awarded Gin,” and we know you’re going to love the classic taste of this London Dry Gin when you’re visiting the capital.
Beefeater is one of England’s original gin brands, and with a history dating back to 1863, when James Burrough distilled the first batch in London, you can rest assured that they know how to do gin.
Beefeater popularized the “London Dry” style of gin. In part, because they drew on the city’s heritage and history by naming their beverage after the Queen’s personal guard, the iconic “Beefeaters” that you’ll find outside the Tower of London today.
At the Beefeater Gin Distillery in London, you’ll be able to learn more about the humble origins of their gin and the prestigious awards they’ve won over the years. As one of the best gin distilleries in England, this place offers intriguing tours, too, where you can see the original Victorian era stills that were used to make some of the first batches of Beefeater.
Follow up the tour with a tasting session, where you’ll not only try the original London Dry Beefeater but all of the nuanced and flavorful gins that are prepared here. Some of our favorite fruity Beefeaters include Peach and Raspberry, Blackberry, and Blood Orange gins!
2. Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery, Hampshire
Hidden away down rural countryside lanes in Hampshire is the home of one of the world’s most famous gin brands. You’ll find the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery 15 miles north of Winchester, the historic Anglo-Saxon capital that was home to Alfred the Great, and you’ll quickly fall in love with the botanicals that make this gin so popular.
Classic Bombay Sapphire is known for its vibrant turquoise color branding and design, which takes inspiration from the classic Gin and Tonic popularized by the British Indian Army during the colonial era. “Bombay” is a reference to Mumbai, and the “Sapphire” refers to a grand turquoise Indian jewel known as the “Star of Bombay,” which was somewhat legendary.
Bombay Sapphire draws on this heritage sublimely, so you’ll be surprised to learn that this gin doesn’t trace its origins back to the colonial era. Rather, it was first distilled in 1986 and has since shot to worldwide popularity.
Join a Discovery Experience, and you’ll learn about the distillation process and see how it all happens at the “Laverstock Mill,” the refurbished and repurposed mill where Bombay Sapphire is produced. After the tour, you can join a Tasting Experience or a Gin Cocktail Masterclass to enjoy Bombay Sapphire firsthand.
3. City of London Distillery, London
The capital has a rich heritage of gin distillation, and there’s nowhere better to uncover the history of the beverage than at the City of London Distillery.
The City of London – and by this, we mean the one-square-mile district right in the heart of the capital – has just one distillery. In the 18th and 19th centuries, there were as many as 200, but the “Gin Craze” of the Victorian era brought them all to a close when the government decided they were doing more harm than good to society.
In 2012, the City of London Distillery became the first gin distillery to operate within the boundaries of the City of London in well over a century, and we know you’re going to love their “Whitley and Neil Gin,” which has since taken the gin world by storm!
Take a tour of the stills, learn about the distillation process that’s rewarded the company with many awards in its short history, then put your new skills to practice as you distill your very own personalized bottle of Whitley and Neil Gin.
4. Plymouth Gin Distillery, Plymouth
Travel to southwest England, and you’ll find that the ocean city of Plymouth is a city that’s steeped in gin history. That should really come as no surprise, though, because Plymouth has always been England’s most prominent naval port. And historically, the English Navy and its sailors have always loved to drink!
In fact, Plymouth Gin Distillery is thought to be the oldest working gin distillery in England, although production has been on and off since the 18th century. The distillery itself has records dating back to 1793, and you’ll love how it’s located in an old (but refurbished) building right in the center of the Barbican, the oldest district in Plymouth.
The distillery is just a short walk away from Plymouth Harbour and the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrims set sail for the Americas in 1620. Before it was devoted to gin production, the building where Plymouth Gin Distillery now resides was a friary, and it was possibly used as a place of lodging by the Pilgrims before they set off on their journey (although you wouldn’t have caught them enjoying even a tipple of Plymouth’s finest!).
Plymouth Gin Distillery’s Master Gin Maker was a former officer in the Royal Navy, so traditions run strong here. You can even try the somewhat infamous “Navy Proof Gin,” which has a proof of 57 percent, or you can enjoy the delights of the upscale gin bar and fine dining restaurant after a tour and tasting in the distillery.
5. The English Whisky Company, Norfolk
English whiskey was once said to have been comparable to Scotch, and English distillers once supplied a huge percentage of the world’s whiskey. But by the early 20th century, all of England’s whiskey distillers had closed, and there wouldn’t be a resurgence until The English Whisky Company opened its doors in 2006.
The English Whisky Company was the first English whiskey distiller to operate in 120 years. Starting with a small batch of just 29 barrels, the Norfolk business has now produced thousands of barrels. They’ve also won awards, opened a visitors center, and become highly regarded as the forerunner of the English Whisky Renaissance.
Their classic whiskey is simply called “The English,” and it’s an unpeated single malt that’s aged in bourbon casks. It’s quite unlike any Scotch you might be used to, but then again, this is English Whisky, and the English Whisky Company is forging a new path and a new, distinctive whiskey distillation style that’s unique to England!
You can take a tour of The English Whisky Company’s distillation center, followed by a tasting of their finest malts. You’ll find the distillery in the Norfolk countryside, in the east of England, where we know you’re going to love the rural countryside setting as well as the single malt.
6. Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery, Filey Bay
The evocative scenery and rural history of Yorkshire are the inspiration behind the county’s first-ever single malt whiskey. Head to Filey Bay, where the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery is based, and you’ll find out what all the fuss is about!
Filey Bay Whisky is prepared using ingredients sourced almost exclusively in Yorkshire. The grains come from local farms, the water from local reservoirs, and the whiskey is distilled, bottled, and sold from the Yorkshire coast.
On a one-hour distillery tour, you’ll learn about the process, the inspiration, and the story of the Spirit of Yorkshire Distillery from passionate local guides who were there from the start of the journey. Follow up the tour with a “deep dive tasting session,” where you’ll go into the serious depths of whiskey tasting and enjoy the best barrels and malts produced by the distillery.
7. Dartmoor Distillery, Princetown
The English aren’t known for their whiskey production, and the world’s most famous whiskey brands are almost always found north of the border in Scotland. But England is experiencing a whiskey renaissance, and among the high moors and windswept tors of Dartmoor, in Devon, single malt whiskies have begun to emerge.
Head to the town of Princetown, which sits at an altitude of some 400 meters above sea level, and you’ll find the Dartmoor Distillery. Only recently opened in 2017, Dartmoor Distillery has the unique distinction of being the highest altitude whiskey distillery in the British Isles.
Dartmoor is known for its peaty, wild, and rugged moorland, and the unique conditions, the altitude, and the spirit of Dartmoor have all been captured in the essence of the distillery’s lead-in single malt whiskey. The whiskey is known as a “High Moorland,” and you’ll love how it can compete with even the best Scotch from the most distant Scottish islands.
Take a tour of the distillery, see the copper stills where the whiskey is made, and enjoy a few tastings from their best barrels while taking in the refreshing air of Dartmoor. You can combine a visit to the distillery in Princetown with a wider exploration of Dartmoor National Park, where myths, legends, ancient stone circles, and epic scenery await those brave enough to venture off the beaten path!
8. Tarquin’s Gin Distillery, Cornwall
Tarquin’s Gin Distillery is hidden away down a rural country lane, among the stores and barns of a working farm just a few miles away from Cornwall’s northern coastline. This isn’t the largest or most famous of gin distillers, but Tarquin’s sure is making a name for itself in the southwest!
Tarquin’s Gin was borne on the wild, windswept cliffs of Cornwall, where botanicals were foraged and where the climate, the scenery, and the vistas inspired this exciting new gin. Tarquin’s is named after its founder, Tarquin, who decided that a traditional career in London wasn’t for him and that a life of gin distillation in deepest Cornwall was a worthier path to follow.
Tarquin spent countless summers concocting different gin recipes in a farmyard barn. Then, when he was satisfied that he had the best recipe possible, he started distilling small batches of gin. The gin was a hit in the local area, and now Tarquin’s is found all over Cornwall and Devon.
If you’re down in the southwest, then you can take a tour of Tarquin’s Gin Distillery. You’ll see the original stills and the newer, bigger stills that were brought in to keep up with demand. You can bottle your own gin, or join a gin distillation masterclass to learn a few of Tarquin’s tips and tricks.
9. Salcombe Distilling Company, Devon
Southwest England is a hotbed for artisanal distillation and craft spirits, and nowhere embraces the creative ethos of the country’s distilling scene as much as the Salcombe Distilling Company in Devon.
Salcombe is a small town on the south Devon coast, and you’ll quickly fall in love with the charming scenery, coastal vistas, and rustic feel of the place. The Salcombe Distilling Company overlooks a small harbor, and they’ve harnessed this local seaside energy to craft a wonderful local gin that’s achieved national popularity.
Salcombe Distilling Company takes inspiration from the salt spray that hangs in the Salcombe air, and you’ll love how this is the only gin distillery in the world that can be directly accessed by boat from the open ocean.
This is small batch gin distillation at its best, and all bottles are prepared using the same 450-liter copper still that’s named “Provident.” You can learn more on a tour of the premises, but the real highlight is the distillery’s gin school.
At the Salcombe Gin School, you’ll learn how to make gin from start to finish. You’ll start with the basics, like botanical selection, and finish with gin cocktail mixology classes.
10. East London Liquor Company, London
The East London Liquor Company is a distiller and spirit supplier that’s based in the historic warehouse of East London. But while the company draws on the area’s rich mercantile heritage, they certainly know how to do things differently.
While they stock, import, craft, and distill everything from rhubarb vodka to a classic London Dry Gin, it’s their East London Single Malt Whisky that really wins the awards. This unique whiskey uses a 120-hour-long open-top fermentation process that involves bananas, cloves, and many other unusual botanicals and ingredients.
Uniquely, the East London Liquor Company also provides customers with the opportunity to refill their whiskey, gin, or vodka bottles in the shop. Their goal is to cut down on waste while offering you the best spirits in East London.
11. Adnams Brewery, Southwold
A brewery? Yes, but the Adnams Brewery is also home to one of England’s best distilleries! This historic beer producer is best known for its beers and ales, and rightly so, considering they’ve been brewing since 1872, but they are also entering into the distillation game.
In 2010, the beer company established a new line of drinks production when they officially opened the Copper House Distillery on the site of their historic brewery. The distillation takes place in the heritage buildings of the original brewery site, with the brewery operations long since moved into much larger premises.
The Copper House Distillery produces a fine range of spirits, fueled by the ever-increasing English demand for boutique beverages. On a tour of the distillery, you’ll learn how Adnams switched from beer brewing to vodka, gin, and whiskey distillation, and at the end of the tour, you’ll have the chance to try all three of their spirits (and maybe even a few beers)!
12. Cotswolds Distillery, Stourton
The beautiful Cotswolds is home to rolling hills, green fields, sandstone houses, and one of the best distilleries in England.
You’ll find the Cotswolds Distillery in the village of Stourton, right in the picturesque heart of the English countryside. The Cotswolds are officially designated as an “Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,” and you’ll love the charming drive through country lanes that brings you to the distillery’s visitor’s center.
At the Cotswolds Distillery Visitors Centre you can learn more about the spirits distilled by the company, which was only founded in 2014. Their signature spirits are a single malt whiskey and their popular “Cotswolds Dry Gin,” which are, of course, award-winning.
You’ll learn about the farm-to-bottle process, as the Cotswolds Distillery takes pride in sourcing all of its ingredients as locally as possible. This means that the barley for the whiskey comes from local farms, and the botanicals for the gin are, where possible, sourced in the Cotswolds.
Take a tour, indulge in whiskey and gin, and take a few bottles home from the shop to enjoy later. There’s a reason this is considered one of the best distilleries in England!
13. Cambridge Gin Laboratory, Cambridge
Cambridge is known for being home to one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities, but did you also know that the city is home to a quirky “gin laboratory”?
Located at No.10 Green Street, just a short stroll along the road from Trinity College, the Cambridge Gin Laboratory takes a scientific approach to gin distillation. Perhaps it’s the proximity to the great research institutions of the university, but you’ll love the unique “vacuum distillation” method that’s been honed and harnessed by the master distillers here.
Vacuum distillation allows the distillers to reach extremely cold temperatures during the production process. This adds an unusually crisp and refreshing tone to the botanicals before the gin is blended perfectly using a Novo dimensional distillation matrix that creates the perfect pairings of ingredients.
You can learn more about this novel approach (and what a Novo dimensional distillation matrix is!) by taking a tour of the Cambridge Gin Laboratory. You’ll meet the master distillers and “gin tailors” who craft these exceptional gins before having the opportunity to put your newfound knowledge to practice in the laboratory itself.
That’s right, you can join a gin-making masterclass where you can craft your own distinct bottle of scientifically sourced gin to take home with you!
14. The Oxford Artisan Distillery, Oxford
The Oxford Artisan Distillery takes exceptionalism to another level, but that’s to be expected when you’re distilling in Oxford, a city that’s best known for its educational prowess.
This distillery takes a unique “seed-to-still” approach to distilling. They understand that because up to 98 percent of the gin and whiskey they distill is produced from grains, it’s the grains that have to take center stage in the production process.
The Oxford Artisan Distillery grows its own grains in a sustainable manner, but these aren’t any old grains. These are ancient heritage grains that have been nurtured and protected by a professional “Archeobotanist” from Oxford.
But it’s not just the farming that’s important, and you’ll love how The Oxford Artisan Distillery has two copper stills named Nemo and Nautilus that look like something out of a Jules Verne novel. You’ll see them on a distillery tour, where you’ll also learn how they craft their exceptional gin, vodka, and rye whiskey using their seed-to-still process.
15. The Lakes Distillery, Cumbria
Overlooking the serene shores of Bassenthwaite Lake in Cumbria, you can find one of the most interesting distilleries in England.
The Lakes Distillery is not just a great distiller of vodkas, gins, and whiskies, but it’s a real tribute to the spirit and scenery of the Lake District. This distillery really is all about its location, and there’s no better place to source the finest English water than the iconic Lake District.
And just as the Lake District inspired generations of Romantic poets, authors, and travelers, so too were the founders of The Lakes Distillery inspired to craft their almost-perfect spirits.
The Lakes Distillery is devoted to what it likes to call “holistic” distillation. This means that their master spirit makers are there through every step of the distillation process, adding unique touches and creative character as they hone and craft their drinks with expertise, flair, and experience.
Their most popular tour takes you on a behind-the-scenes look at the whiskey-making process, and you’ll love exploring the vats and stills that are found in this converted 19th-century farmhouse. After the tour, you can enjoy a gourmet dining experience at the distillery’s bistro or head to the farm, where you’ll find a family of alpacas roaming around the grounds.
There you have it! The 15 best distilleries in England. What’s your favorite distillery in England?
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