Brackenbury Village, Hammersmith, West London, England, UK.
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.
This Summer Cup, with a Gin base, is similar in style to the ubiquitous Pimm’s and was launched in late Summer 2011 in the UK.
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 12 to 15 hours 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).
This base Gin is then taken and blended with an infusion of additional summer
botanicals, to create Sipsmith’s Summer Cup.
The slightly cloudy brick red colored Gin is presented in a clear squat cylindrical bottle with rounded shoulders. Repackaged for 2012, the mostly yellow (previously scarlet red) 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 summer flowers 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). They also produce a magnum sized (1.5 liter) version.
Flavored Gin - Fruit Cup.
29% (58 Proof).
$$$$$. Not available in the USA. Try online
from Master of Malt in the UK but prepare to add around 50% more for shipping.
Uses 10 botanicals for the base Gin 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).
This is followed by an infusion made with 5 further botanicals including: cardamom, cucumber (essence), lemon Verbena (home grown), orange and tea (earl grey).
Like Pimm’s, we believe Sipsmith use angostura bitters, maraschino (cherry liqueur), orange curaçao/triple sec and sweet vermouth in the blend too!
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”.
“Summer Cup”, also called a “Fruit Cup”, is a traditional English style drink (and is more widely known as a “Fruit Punch”). Commonly made from a Gin base, it is flavoured with botanicals including fruit, herbs and spices and drunk outside in the summer months as a long drink (usually with lemonade). A large jug or punch bowl is filled with these liquids plus ice and sliced fruit added which are often: borage leaves (taste like cucumber), apple, cucumber, lemon, lime, mint leaves, orange and strawberries.
On the nose are citrus (orange), cucumber,
bergamot (earl grey tea) and spice (cardamom) plus faint green herbal notes including
(we believe) lavender. On the palate are dry puckering (tannin) and juniper
notes with green herbs, fruity cherry and zesty (lemon) citrus plus spice
(cardamom). On the long close is a bittersweet dry juniper with a lingering
warm peppery spice finish. This is a flavorsome and fruity complex Gin Cup.
This is a superb Summer Cup, and compared to the famous Pimm’s, is a drier, stronger flavored and more citrusy version. Sipsmith recommend adding 3 parts clear lemon soda (called lemonade in the UK but means Sprite, 7Up etc. – Sipsmith recommend Fevertree Lemonade in particular for a drier still version) to 1 part summer cup and adding ice plus seasonal summer fruits, making a simply ideal drink for a summer’s day in the outdoors (e.g. picnics, garden parties, spectator events etc.). Alternatively try using ginger ale and mint (for a more bitter, herbal and spicy version), try half lemonade and half ginger ale, or with Tonic and a slice of lemon/lime to make a fruity herbal G&T (although you might want to add some standard gin to this too). For a much drier taste consider using a dry sparkling wine such as Champagne or Prosecco.
The guys at Sipsmith have done it yet again! This is one of the best Fruit Cup’s we have ever tasted with its dry fruitiness and Gin notes coming through loud and clear. If you prefer a sweeter and/or more subtle version this one may not be for you, but don’t revert to type until you have tried this one first! Highly recommended.