The Best Tipples of South West England
England's South West is famous for its scenic villages and dramatic coastline, but it’s also home to some of the country's most historic and exciting pubs, breweries and drinks festivals.
Combine the scenery of Devon and Cornwall with some of its finest beers, by taking a day trip on the Great Scenic Railways' Rail Ale Trails. With seven self-guided trails to choose from, they take visitors through lush valleys and traditional rural towns while chugging along sandy coastal tracks. Each stop includes a list of pubs within walking distance; jump off and enjoy a chilled pint before continuing to your next destination.
A FINE VINE
If wine is more your tipple, plan a visit to Quoins, a family-run organic vineyard in Wiltshire near the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bath. Quoins produces four single-variety wines, which can be purchased directly from the vineyard. It opens for tours from mid-August, or you can drop into one of its open days and tastings, which are held throughout the year.
Sitting in 180 acres of orchards, Somerset Cider Brandy Company and Burrow Hill Cider has been making apple cider for over 200 years. In 1989, the company began setting aside half its yield to produce apple cider brandy, a once-popular liquor that fell out of favour with English drinkers 300 years ago but is undergoing a modern-day revival. Wander the orchards, tour the cider house and distillery, and finish with a tasting.
THE GRAPE ESCAPE
The fun doesn't have to stop when your winery tour does. At Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire, you can stay overnight in a room that overlooks the neat rows of grapevines, or even in a lodge right in the middle of them. Time your stay with one of their regular events such as dinner and wine tastings, and even pop-up opera performances.
SHAKE IT UP
Create your own signature drink with a cocktail-making tutorial at The Milk Thistle, an uber-cool Bristol bar styled like a 1930s speakeasy and complete with an unmarked front door. Make it past the secret entrance and into their masterclass, and their mixologists will teach you a few tricks of the trade.
SOUTH WEST SPIRITS
This Easter, Cornwall's Colwith Farm Distillery will open its doors for tours. Originally a potato farm set up to help feed the nation during the Second World War, it produced the county's first potato vodka, Aval Dor, in 2014. The following year, Stafford’s Gin was created from the vodka and botanicals foraged from the farm. The distillery is now working on a premium Cornish whiskey.
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