I first visited the City of London Distillery (COLD) back in 2014. (If you read that first visit on my blog you can see how far I’ve come since I started blogging). This time Joe their brand ambassador invited me back to check out the changes and the new additions to their gin range.
*Full disclosure – my tour and gin tasting at COLD was hosted by them for free*
City of London Distillery
Where is City of London Distillery located?
City of London Distillery is just off Fleet street right in the middle of the old City of London. The green lights projected on the pavement are the first sign that you are approaching the distillery.
When you approach the door you spy the green paneling and a cat statue:
The cat is a nod to the ‘Puss and Mew shop’ – a way for the gin addicted to get their fix after the Gin Act of 1736. There would be a slot that a coin could be dropped into and as a result the cat would dispense a shot of gin via a pipe in its mouth. Inginious!
Head downstairs to access the bar and distillery area:
The City of London Bar
Walking into the bar it has a speakeasy vibe, with the dark green extended in and complemented with pieces of vintage furniture and wood panelling.
Whilst City of London have an impressive array of their own gin, there are other gins available at the bar. It’s a full bar that includes other spirits and the makings for cocktails too, more on that later…
All around the room are gin memorabilia – including this Gin Lane game:
The bar is a great place to pop in and grab a gin and tonic or cocktail. You can also visit to do a gin tasting or actually make gin with City of London Distillery:
The new gin experience rooms
Since I last visited the distillery has developed the space to showcase the Gin Lab and ‘make your own gin’ experiences. They also do tours and gin tastings that are less involved than the gin making experiences.
When you make your own gin at City of London Distillery, there are loads of botanicals you can choose from.
The session starts with smelling and selecting your ingredients (with a guiding hand from the staff). You then add these to the mini stills and distill your own gin!
The actual distilling for City of London Gin isn’t done on the mini stills (although Joe says they still use them to play around with ingredients). The actual distillery where the magic happens is next door (& also fully visible from the bar due to the large window).
Inside the City of London Distillery room:
This bottle represents the botanicals that make up the City of London, London Dry gin – only 8 botanicals (can you see the layers of botanicals?)
Yes I do go around sticking my head in stills (but only when they are cold).
When I first visited City of London Distillery they had 2 stills – Clarissa and Jennifer, named after the two fat ladies.
COLD are currently replacing Jennifer (the tall column still) with another pot still (the rounded ones with copper tops).
Tasting City of London gin
City of London distillery has expanded their range considerably since 2014. Now they have 9 gins in total, with 5 being part of the core range, the others more seasonal/limited edition.
COLD Dry gin
- Fresh lemon and grapefruit
- Dried orange
Christopher Wren gin
- Dried orange
The Square Mile
Murcian Orange gin
R&R – Rhubarb and Rose
When I visited the distillery this one was literally hot out of the still! As it was only cut with water that day it needed some time for the alcohol and water molecules to distribute and ‘mind meld’ (not a technical term!). At 41.3% this gin has tart rhubarb notes on the nose. It’s a London Dry style gin and has a light mouthfeel, with lemon and tartness. There isn’t strong rose note coming through and Joe explained that the rose was added to lift and add softer notes to the overall mix.
This was a collaboration between Head Distiller Guy and Jonnie Neill from Whitley Neill gin. They wanted to make a different take on a Rhubarb gin, whilst maintaining London Dry status.
Now that it’s out in full production you can identify it from the pink bottle:
Newest release – Strawberry gin
Cocktails at the City of London Distillery bar are good. The list is extensive and they can make all the classics too. As I mentioned from my first visit, they make a great martini and you have plenty of choices for gin and tonics too.
When I visited this time I enjoyed a Martinez cocktail made with City of London Distillery Old Tom gin. This cocktail is a precursor to the martini, and is made with gin and sweet red vermouth, a little maraschino liqueur and a dash of bitters. Mine was garnished with orange peel to complement.
Visiting City of London Distillery:
If you are in the City of London or wandering Fleet Street, then I highly recommend popping into City of London Distillery for a drink. The COLD bar is open from 4pm-11pm Monday through Saturday, and you can book a table for drinks online.
If, like me on my first visit, you want to know more about gin, City of London Distillery and to taste their gin range, then I’d recommend pre-booking a distillery tour and tasting (£25).
You can also book for the Gin Lab experience (£125) where you will make your own gin in one of the seven dwarfs stills. You can also buy vouchers for the experiences as gifts. The distillery is open 9am-5pm Monday through Friday
Find City of London Distillery:
Visit other London based gin distilleries, find out more here:
Always wanted to visit there! I just don’t seem to get to London that often these days!
Well next time you are over you need to pop in for a drink!!
Interesting idea for our next trip to London. We’ve never taken a distillery tour before. The memorabilia alone would make it worth the trip.
I’d recommend it for a taste of London’s renown gin!
What fun! This is right up my alley. I just moved from a wine region where I did wine tasting at least once a month. I took a wine blending class and created my own wine. I’ve also visited sake and rum distilleries. The gin lab would be such a fun, hands-on way to learn more about gin.
Yes I think you’d love it Ava!
Lindsey Puls says
I really need to try gin again. It’s been years since I decided I didn’t like it. But some of these gins you listed sound really good! And this distillery looks like so much fun!
I’m sure we can find you one that you’d love Lindsey – the selection in the market is huge now!
I haven’t been to London for quite a while – and this tour would be another reason to go back. Artisan gin is getting really big everywhere and I guess, the best one will be distilled in the UK, still. I’d love to try the rhubarb one.
There’s definitely a huge selection available in the UK Renata – so it’s a great place to start!
CARMEN | Wellington World Travels says
Wow. It’s interesting that they use those botanicals, and I never knew there are different kinds. I guess I wasn’t paying attention. I like the Old Tom for its sweeter taste. For £25, it’s not a bad price for tour and tasting.
It’s a great place to get an introduction to London gin Carmen!
Andrei Salokhin says
Awesome photos! Interesting idea for our next trip to London.
Thanks Andrei – I hope you get there!
That looks like so much fun – I’ve never made my own gin before! And love that the stills are named after the seven dwarves.
I was literally JUST in London and wish I saw your blog post earlier!
Ah I have plenty of gin based activities to recommend Kelsey!