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Review

Sipsmith (Blue Label) Gin

Distillery

Sipsmith Distillery, Brackenbury Village, Hammersmith, West London, England, UK.

Website

Sipsmith Independent Spirits.

History

Sam Galsworthy and Fairfax Hall grew up together as childhood friends in Cornwall, England and both pursued careers in the Drinks Industry, most recently for Fullers and Diageo respectively. Returning back to the UK in 2006, having seen the craft spirit movement in the USA and developing a passion for handcrafted drinks, they established Sipsmith on 14th March 2009. This came after 2 years of administrative battling (as no one had sought a distillery license in London since Beefeater in 1820) and the selling of their homes to fund the “Gin project”.

With the first copper pot distillery to open in London for nearly 200 years (189 to be precise), the company is ably supported by Master Distiller Jared Brown and Distilling Manager Chris Garden. Their mission is to create exceptional small batch artisan spirits and it is more than fair to say this is achieved with great aplomb. The distillery was founded on the site of an operational microbrewery from the 1700’s to the 1900’s, and more recently was the prior residence of the late and great beer and whisky writer Michael Jackson. 2014 expects to see them move to a new distillery venue in Chiswick, West London - where they also plan to add a third still to the production facilities. Tours and tastings are available on site, but check for times and dates and only by prior booking - especially important as these visits also sell out fast.

Production

Using methods and recipes dating back 300 years to the early 18th century the Gin is made from a 5 times distilled base spirit of English barley – a rare and certainly more expensive choice of grain and just like a malt whisky. The botanicals are steeped in the warm base spirit for 20 hours (over 5 hours more than their original Gin) after which it is distilled in a “one shot” method using one of two unique 300-liter copper pot stills called Prudence (installed March 2009) and Patience (installed April 2013). Each have been made by German company Christian Carl and possess both column and carter-head facilities. The spirit is made in small batches of up to 500 bottles (usually around 300 - 400 bottles) and hydrated with Lydwell Spring water from the Cotswolds, one of the sources of the River Thames (that flows through London).

The Gin is presented in a clear squat cylindrical bottle with rounded shoulders. The mostly blue colored label has a square of copper foil in the middle, reflecting the use of a copper pot still. On the label are hand drawn images of juniper and their copper pot still, which transforms into the neck of a Swan (a play on the term “Swan’s-neck” to describe the turn at the top of the still where the vapor trail starts it’s journey of condensing).






Category

London Dry Gin.

Alcohol By Volume (ABV)

44.1% (88 Proof).

Price Range

$$$$$. Not available in the USA as it is made exclusively for the Spanish market, and therefore has limited availability within Europe. Try online at Vinus Vinis.

Botanicals

Uses 10 botanicals including: almond powder (Spain), angelica root (Belgium or France), cassia bark (China), cinnamon bark (Madagascar), coriander seed (Bulgaria), juniper berries (Macedonia), lemon peel (Spain), liquorice root (Italy or Spain), bitter orange peel (Seville, Spain) and orris root (Italy).

Name

Co-founder Fairfax Hall’s father is a silversmith and he suggested that an artisanal distiller was an equally specialist craftsman who is entitled to use the suffix of “smith” also. Just as you have blacksmiths, silversmiths and more recently wordsmiths and songsmiths the distillers realized they enjoyed all things “sippical” it was this background that pointed to the birth of “Sipsmith” - not to mention their initial location being in “Hammersmith”.

Tasting Notes

Unfortunately we have not been able to sample this particular version of Sipsmith Gin ourselves. However, this slightly stronger (ABV) variation we understand has an increase in juniper whilst not losing the elegance and balance found in the original Sipsmith Gin.

Awards & Accolades

Unknown.



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