Running out of ideas when it comes to team building? If you’ve exhausted all the escape rooms, sports days and adrenalin-filled activities, why not try something a little more civilised and distil your own gin at the Salcombe Gin School? Located in the picturesque Devon seaside town of Salcombe, what better reason to leave the office than for some beautiful beachy scenery and craft gin, eh?
The brand was founded by Salcombe local entrepreneurs Angus Lugsdin and Howard Davies back in 2017 and it’s grown rapidly ever since. After lots of experimentation, the pair finally settled on the unique recipe from which Salcombe gin was created, beginning its journey to becoming the popular spirit it is today. Now, it’s available at a number of high-end department stores and at restaurants, but you can also have a go at making your own personalised bottle with the help of its experts.
How? You’ll start the day at the gin factory with a Salcombe G&T before being whisked off to the distillery. Here, more than 300 bottles are produced every day, and you’ll be given a tour and talk about the process from head distiller Jason Nickels. You’ll learn everything you need to know about the distilling, from start to finish, while drinking the end product.
Watch as the high-quality base spirits and carefully selected botanicals including coriander, orange peel and much more boil away in the still to give the room a heady fragrant smell. This will be the introduction to your day before being taken into the ‘gin school’ to give the process a go yourself.
Using mini copper gin stills to achieve the smoothest flavour, as well as more than 100 ingredients, you get going at making your own gin. Start the process by adding Salcombe Gin's key ingredient (juniper berries) before choosing from a range of ingredients jars adorning the walls. These contain the likes of star anise and coriander seeds, which you can add to infuse your gin. Make sure to follow the list of instructions and expert advice the gin distillers give to help you out along the way. This is the time to get experimental by mixing a range of different tastes and flavours. Just make sure to be careful with quantities of certain ingredients – you don’t want one flavour to overpower another. Once you’re happy with your concoction, a quick check will be done by the experts to avoid any gin disasters before being heated to the correct temperature to finish off the process.
The distilling process itself consists of methanol boiling at 65 degrees and after vaporising and condensing the undesirable part of the gin is disposed of. From here it is then made hotter to 85 degrees before the alcohol and your chosen flavours are captured and cooled in a condensing chamber before being dispensed as gin. At this point it will be around 75% proof before being cut with fresh Dartmoor water to make it around 45% and drinkable. Although the big copper still from the distillery is capable of producing hundreds of bottles of gin in one go, your mini one will make the perfect amount for one bottle of your desired gin flavour.
The heating process takes around 40 minutes, so while you are waiting, its time to get creative with a name and design for your personalised craft gin. Before you leave, you’ll complete the experience by being taken to the distillery boathouse bar to trial your creation with a selection of garnishes, while admiring the stunning views of the estuary that the bar overlooks. After an information-packed day, make the most of the beautiful surroundings and visit one of the pubs and restaurants in the area, or take a walk down to the beach before heading home to share your gin with loved ones. Who knows, gin distilling may become your next big hobby.
As far as team building days go, this is sure to be one of the most memorable for you team to partake in. As well as working together to pick ingredients and make the gin, each person gets a souvenir to take home at the end of it. All this while making the most of the fresh countryside air in this quintessential British seaside town – it sure beats the rush of the city.
Salcombe Gin School Lesson start from £110 per person.
Need some more teambuilding inspiration? Check out the best team building activities for the summer