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St Bride Foundation & City of London Gin Distillery

Visit to St. Bride Foundation and City of London Gin Distillery


In the morning we visited St. Bride Foundation where our party was split into two groups.  While one group went down to the Workshop, the other remained in the Library.  Then after about an hour the groups swapped places.


In the Workshop we were able to handle specimens of punches, matrices and letter-casting moulds.  We also saw and had an explanation of different types of casting equipment and printing presses.  To get the art of printing right, several things were necessary; types had to be the same thickness from the bottom of the letter to the top since otherwise they would fall out.  The faces of early type were made to resemble handwriting closely.  To take all of this in you need another visit. 


In the Library we saw some of William Caxton’s work.  He was a native of Kent who set up England’s first printing press in 1476 in Westminster.  As it was St. Valentine’s Day, we were shown specimens of Victorian Valentine cards as well as Valentine “vinegar” cards which were intended to insult a recipient who had paid the sender unwanted attentions.


The running commentaries in both the Workshop and Library were first-rate; the knowledge of the speakers was fantastic.


We then went next door to the “Humble Grape” for lunch which was most enjoyable.


In the afternoon it was over to the City of London Gin Distillery (just 50 yards away).  We were again split into two groups as space was limited in the “classroom” to 16 people.  The talk was excellent.


Gin was originally called “genever”  - and not “Mother’s Ruin”!  It is made by distilling alcohol (produced from wheat or in America from corn) in a batch process in the presence of juniper berries and other botanicals.


The “3 flight” gin tasting was fun and the various names interesting.  One gin was called “Christopher Wren” and another “Square Mile” - very apt for the City of London.


To take all this in another visit is a must! 


There was also a “Tom Collins” cocktail as well as a “Charlie Chaplin” on offer, the ingredients for which are sloe gin, lime and syrup.  The barman offered to make me one but I declined.


About 800 bottles of gin are sold each day in the Distillery.


Colleen McMath

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