BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Gin Brings New Life to Neglected Section of River Test at its New Distillery and Brand Home in England

The iconic gin brand restores chalk stream in an eco-conscious way during massive Laverstoke Mill renovation
Feb 18, 2015 6:05 AM ET

Hamilton, Bermuda, February 18, 2015 /3BL Media/ - For BOMBAY SAPPHIRE®, life is like a river as the brand has deepened its appeal and widened its reach to become the No. 1 premium gin brand worldwide. It seems as no surprise, yet perhaps unusually providential, that the global brand’s home for its distillery was found on the banks of the River Test, a chalk stream, whose waters are known for their clarity, as they are commonly referred to as “gin-clear.”

BOMBAY SAPPHIRE did not meander when the brand began its historic renovation of the disused Laverstoke Mill property, an idyllic industrial site used for a thousand years, nestled within the warrens known to inspire children's literature. It was, in fact, the River Test that trickled its way into the highly acclaimed 1972 novel Watership Down, a classic adventure novel with universal motifs of liberation and self-determination; themes of heroism and of making a community or forever home. Drawing a parallel, it almost appears naturally ordained that BOMBAY SAPPHIRE, found its way to these riverbanks, to bring its rich history home to England, where it started, as it breathes new life into Laverstoke's forgotten past.

When the Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill renovation began, careful consideration of the government-protected, Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) grounds surrounding the facility and ecosystem took place. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is noted for its responsible sourcing practices of premium, exotic botanicals. It is also a steward of the environment because of its commitment, as a part of the Bacardi portfolio, to the Bacardi Limited global “Good Spirited” sustainability initiative, a campaign across all of the Company's brands to reach the company-wide vision of a net-zero impact on the environment. As such, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE approached the restoration with precision to prevent contamination of the River Test wetland habitat known for its prolific fishing in the unsullied English countryside, and constantly looked for ways to increase the Company's sustainability.

Years of neglect at the site allowed nature to have its way with the stretch of the River Test that literally runs through the heart of the distillery property. Crews began the river's restoration with the removal of large amounts of industrial waste. For optimum care, the river section was drained and rerouted to a branch at the backside of the distillery as teams netted fish by hand, unharmed, to preserve them for another day.

“New dirt shored up the river's edges as the reconstruction of retaining walls, brick by brick, took place. To allow public access to the river, crews removed two derelict buildings that hid the river's beauty. Restoration teams prudently placed native plants in the riverbanks to increase biodiversity and support the native species including brown trout, otters, kingfishers, herons, ducks, swans, geese, red kites, and bats,” says Geoff Carter, Project Manager with Meller for the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE site build.

For hundreds of years, the River Test, the lifeblood of the facility, powered a turbine at the former paper mill, which once manufactured the watermarked paper used for the country's currency. Knowing this, redevelopment teams devised a plan to reinstate the turbine to once again provide hydro-electric power for clean energy, an effort in line with the Bacardi Good Spirited credo, which strives to improve sustainability within three main areas: responsible sourcing, global packaging and operational efficiencies. The Bacardi Limited Good Spirited initiative has already reduced both nonrenewable energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 28% for the Company globally.

Now nearly operational, the turbine on the River Test, which is known to have some of the cleanest water in all of England because of its natural chalk-bed filtration, will soon offer some of the cleanest electrical energy to the newly redone distillery. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE even took great care with the river's aquatic life as it installed a fish guard in front of the hydroelectric turbine. Of note, no water from the river is used in the distillation process and the BOMBAY SAPPHIRE tank farm is enclosed to protect the local environment, again, to be completely sustainable.

At the Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill, life is indeed like a river—the River Test, that is—and the Company's direction, like the river's waters constantly move forward with a Good Spirited vision that's gin-clear.

Building on current programs and efficiencies that reduce water and energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, the Bacardi Limited Good Spirited platform reinforces the Company’s years of leadership in corporate social responsibility – and sets specific, new goals in three vital areas:

  1. Responsible Sourcing: Bacardi strives to obtain all raw materials and packaging from sustainably sourced, renewable or recycled materials while maintaining or enhancing the economic status of growers and suppliers. By 2017, the goal is to obtain 40% of the sugarcane-derived products used to make BACARDÍ® premium rums from certified, sustainable sources – and 100% by 2022. This pledge from Bacardi is an industry first.
  2. Global Packaging: Bacardi commits to use eco-design to craft sustainability into its brand packaging and point-of-sale materials. By 2017, Bacardi plans to reduce the weight of its packaging by 10% and achieve 15% by 2022. Bacardi collaborates with its partners – including glass and paper suppliers – to make packaging more environmentally friendly.
  3. Operational Efficiencies: Bacardi continues to focus on reducing water use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with a 2017 goal to cut water use by 55% and GHG emissions by 50%. The Company further seeks innovative treatments for water left over from production. In addition, Bacardi aims to eliminate landfill waste at all of its production sites by 2022.

To learn more about Bacardi Limited and its “Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future” environmental initiative across the entire Bacardi family of premium spirits brands, visit



BOMBAY SAPPHIRE is the fastest growing of the major premium gin brands and the world's No. 1 premium gin by value. Based on a secret 1761 recipe, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin is created by perfectly balancing a unique combination of 10 hand-selected exotic botanicals from around the world. The natural flavors of the botanicals are captured through a delicate distillation process called Vapour Infusion, which results in the tantalizing, smooth and complex taste that is BOMBAY SAPPHIRE. The BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® brand is part of the portfolio of Bacardi Limited, headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited.


About Bacardi Limited

Bacardi Limited, the largest privately held spirits company in the world, produces and markets internationally recognized spirits and wines. The Bacardi brand portfolio comprises more than 200 brands and labels, including BACARDÍ® rum, GREY GOOSE® vodka, DEWAR’S® Blended Scotch whisky, BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® gin, MARTINI® vermouth and Italian sparkling wines, CAZADORES® 100% blue agave tequila, and other leading and emerging brands.

Founded 153 years ago in Santiago de Cuba on February 4, 1862, family-owned Bacardi employs nearly 6,000 people, manufactures its brands at 29 facilities and sells in more than 160 countries. Bacardi Limited refers to the Bacardi group of companies, including Bacardi International Limited.


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