Imagine drinking a delicious gin cocktail listening to the relaxing sounds of the sea whilst you gaze upon the stunning vistas of some of the most luxurious properties in the world. You could be anywhere – the South of France, the Balearics, or even the Caribbean, but instead you are cruising in a vintage boat along the beautiful coast of Dorset.
Welcome to Sandbanks! One of the many points of interest you can enjoy on the route of the Dorset Cruises Artisan Gin Cruise which takes place on the adorably named ‘Dorset Queen’ which takes both locals and tourists alike on a fascinating water-based tour of the local area.
This is not just any ordinary boat ride, this is a gin-inspired vintage boat cruise that explores not only the local coastline, but many of the locally-distilled gin brands that have established themselves in recent years.
For this particular gin tour however, we were introduced to Fresha, a delicious strawberry flavoured gin that is produced in the Andalucía region of Southern Spain. Their guest distiller Jon provided us with some handy background knowledge on the gin as well as a mini-masterclass.
It is the world’s only premium five strawberry gin which is made from juicy and ripe strawberries from Huelva in Spain. It also contains lemon and orange peels from Seville as well as vanilla and star anise from Southern Spain.
As well as serving us their award-winning gin, we were also provided with some samples of their delicious strawberry jam infused with gin, which you can’t help but try!
We were also taught a great technique for drinking gin, apparently you use a similar approach to how you taste wine. 80% of our taste buds are evoked by smell alone. You swirl it around your glass (which you hold by the stem) and inhale. After you take a sip, you exhale to really take advantage of the smell and taste.
Whilst we did try it neat (which you can do with fruit-based gins), it does taste even better with flavoured tonic water such as the Double Dutch Cucumber and Watermelon mixer which really sets off the glorious flavours of the strawberry gin beautifully. Each of the mixers compliment and enhancing certain botanicals in each of the gins that you mix them with.
The good people at Fresha have said that when it comes to their strawberry flavoured gin, you don’t necessarily need a garnish, but if you do, that it is best to opt for fresh strawberries.
As well as working our way through this bottle of pink loveliness, we were also served gin-inspired canapés and were each allocated three tokens which we could use at the onboard bar in exchange for a selection of delicious cocktails (all of which were naturally gin focussed!)
We were sat at the bottom of the boat inside (despite it being a pleasant evening here on the South Coast), but there were lots of seating options on the upper, fore and stern decks where guests can really soak up the atmosphere and take in the magnificent views.
The Dorset Queen leisurely navigated around the stunning coastline of Dorset, first heading towards the western shore of Brownsea Island (which is certainly worth a visit if you love wildlife and nature.)
We then cruised around Poole Harbour passing the likes of Long Island, Round Island, Furzey Island and Green Island.
After cruising past Millionaire Row in Sandbanks (where you can see some of the most amazing mansions) we then took a neat swoop past Brownsea once again and sailed down the North Channel, passing the Royal Motor Yacht Club, Salterns and nearby Parkstone Bay Marina.
In the final part of our cruise, we passed the Port of Poole and Moriconium Quay before heading back to Poole Quay to disembark.
The Dorset Cruises Artisan Gin Cruises runs twice a month and takes place on Friday’s, Please check their website for availability. However, on Sunday 20th May, they are hosting an exclusive cruise in conjunction with with Rick Stein, Pommery Champagne & the Oyster Farmers of Poole to offer a one-off Champagne and Oysters cruise where you can sail over the Oyster beds of Poole Harbour’s Balls Lake and discover the journey that the local oysters take, from seed to delicacy. There is limited availability, so please book early to avoid disappointment.
If you are planning a trip to Bournemouth and need some extra inspiration, download or buy the latest print edition of House of Coco magazine for our handy guide to Bournemouth.