The Bombay Sapphire distillery in Laverstoke has celebrated its sixth anniversary of opening in the town.

It’s been a rocky road to where the distillery is today, taking in council protests, noise complaints, and the Covid pandemic.

Planning permission for the distillery was originally granted in February 2012, with building taking place across into an expected 2013 opening date. It was built on the site of the former Portals paper facility at Laverstoke Mill, which made paper to be used in bank notes.

The most striking feature of the plans was the inclusion of two glasshouses, used to showcase the botanicals used in making Bombay Sapphire gin.

However, the building plans slipped into 2014, and when the company applied for a premises license in 2013, some councillors were not best pleased.

Then Overton parish councillor Brian Langer raised concerns about the impact of the opening hours, saying that the council needed “to make some stand – I think it’s inappropriate.”

The Borough councillor Paula Baker concurred, telling the parish council that “common sense suggests it is going to get worse.”

However, these complaints didn’t put the brakes on the distillery, which debuted with an exclusive opening just a few days before the official launch on October 1 2014.

But once it got underway, there were complaints again in 2017 as deliveries to the site were said to be “ruining the lives” of its next door neighbours. A noise abatement order was served by the council to limit the noise made by the facility and its delivery lorries.

Despite this, the distillery continued to expand, with a new café being built on the site of former accommodation for the mill’s workers in 2019. This was followed by a planning application, lodged in February of this year, to add an additional still to increase its production capacity. The latter application is still being decided by the council.

When Covid hit a month later, it then switched to hand sanitiser production, which it said it would donate “to doctor’s, chemists and care homes to support the local community at this challenging time.”

Once lockdown restrictions were eased, the distillery opened to the public once again in July, bringing us up to the present day.

Posting on Twitter, the distillery said followers should celebrate with a Laverstoke, a signature cocktail for the distillery.

It contains Bombay Sapphire, MARTINI Bianco Vermouth, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur and gently squeezed lime wedges, which is then topped with Fever-Tree Ginger Ale. Slices of ginger and a mint sprig are then used to garnish and serve.