A tour and tasting at Winchester Distillery - home of Twisted Nose Dry Gin with locally grown watercress

I am a big fan of gin. I liked gin before it was uber-cool to like gin and if quantity drunk relates to expertise, I would call myself an expert. I am very much liking its current revival.

Once upon a time when I were a lass, you would simply ask in the pub or wine bar (giving my age away) for a G&T. The bar tend might ask if you wanted slimline or "fat" tonic and that would be the end of the conversation.

Nowadays, choosing your gin can be as much of a personal choice as what perfume or cologne you wear, with new distillers playing with botanicals, flavourings and blends creating as many different gins as there are gin drinkers.

Twisted Nose dry gin

I recently visited the Winchester Distillery tucked away in beautiful countryside at Old Alresford near Winchester where gin is hand made in small batches. The distillery is the birthplace of the wonderfully named Twisted Nose gin, a small batch gin which contains 10 botanicals including locally grown watercress.

The Distillery's website boasts that the watercress in Twisted Nose "adds sweet herbaceous notes and a peppery sparkle to the finish that lifts a gin and tonic to new heights."

Twisted Nose Dry Gin, Winchester Distillery

D'you know - they are right. Peppery is a really good description  of the sensation and it's almost a shame to add tonic to this flavoursome spirit.

The Winchester Distillery produces a range of other micro-distilled Hampshire gins including seasonal choices like Spring Meadow gin, Winter Wassail gin (I loved this one with festive spices and cranberries but it's sadly sold out for now) and Summer Garden gin with rose petals and strawberries amongst the flavouring ingredients.

Hampshire gin

I was a few gins in at our tasting session and I was amazed at how each gin had a totally different taste, character and aftertaste. None were as obvious as a gimmicky flavoured spirit but unique and flavoursome all the same and I loved the idea of pairing them with different flavoured mixers to make the most of the flavour notes.

So which was my favourite?

Presentation and taste-wise I think it had to be the Winchester Fine Gin. Just check out that gorgeous bottle and dramatic label!

Winchester Gin

This brand new gin was launched this year at the great hall in Winchester city as a tribute to the city (recently nicknamed Ginchester) and was inspired by King Arthur's round table hanging in the hall.

It uses 25 medieval botanicals commonly used in food and medicine in the period; one for each Knight seated at the table with King Arthur himself on the throne at the head of the table represented by Juniper.
Rich and complex, this is a unique gin with great depth of flavour and subtle herbal nuances from the wide list of (secret) medieval botanicals. It's nice sipped neat or, the Distillery recommends, add Fever Tree Mediterannean tonic and garnish with a spring of rosemary and a wheel of lemon. 
Watercress is not all they grow down in that part of Hampshire and gin is not all the Winchester Distillery produces.

It's the only place in the UK where wasabi is grown and obviously it would be a shame to waste all of it on sushi when you could include it in a drink -check out the Twisted Nose Wasabi Vodka for the ultimate Bloody Mary.

If you love gin and fancy a trip to the distillery for a gin-making session or distillery tour or want to be the first to know about seasonal and new products you can sign up to their Kindred Spirits programme for news, events and offers.

You can of course order gin online and have it delivered to your home - you get free delivery if you buy three or more bottles and they offer same day despatch if you order before 2pm.

Gin Distillery

Winchester Distillery tours and tastings

I found my visit there fascinating and in and around Winchester is beautiful so I'd recommend a stay there if you can. There's lots to see and do and lots of lovely places to stay. Eating out is a joy there too! Check out my recent blog post for more details.

Disclaimer: I visited the distillery and look part in a tasting free for the purpose of this honest review.