When NJ embarked on a tour of London’s Sipsmith distillery she was so impressed by the business and the brand that she dragged JB back (it wasn’t hard: a gin distillery you say?!) to find out more.
Enter through the blue wooden doors into a room no bigger than your average Starbucks, and you’ll find yourself standing in front of ‘Patience’ and ‘Prudence’, the distillation tanks that allow the lovely folk at Sipsmith to create 500 bottles of their flagship tipple a day.
Sipsmith are the first London-based independent gin distillers to start up for 200 years, and only after a long legal battle to prove that the modest sized Prudence was being put to work for a legit business, not moonshining!
Brought to life by Sam and Fairfax and joined by a small team the production line kicked into action in 2009. Religiously sticking to the traditional methods of gin-distilling, the boys perfected a process that produced a wonderfully pure product (we verified this via several taste-tests).
The quality was so high, in fact, that when Sam set off to a famous 5 star hotel with the first batch strapped to the back of his scooter they snapped it up. They now distribute via a variety of London-based bars and pubs, and off-trade stores such as Waitrose, Majestic Wines, Harrods and Harvey Nichols. These guys are going straight to the major players, and with a product and brand this good, they’ve earned their right to. Branching out into sloe gin, vodka and a small range of other spirits (each as good as the last, also taste-test verified…), they’ve really marked the start of modern craft distilling.
A great product should be expressed through gorgeous design and Sipsmith does this perfectly. The team worked with design and marketing firm Big Fish to create a look and feel which reflects the story of the company and the message they’re trying to portray.
The outcome is delicate and elegant, and employs traditional methods such as wax sealing and using copper leaf on the labels to bring the whole concept together, meaning the bottle chooses to sit on the shelf subtly instead of screaming “I’m here!!” in your face. The arched neck of the swan is actually symbolic of Prudence, and once you’ve seen her in real life you understand the significance of the nod towards each bottle’s starting point. The Master Distiller and drinks legend in his own right: Jared Brown, added his signature to every bottle, and this neighbours a tracking code allowing you to see how your batch was born. It’s the little touches which hammer home the independent nature of the distillery.
It turns out the name ‘Sipsmith’ is of traditional origins also. Fairfax’s father, who is a silversmith, suggested the term ‘smith’ could also apply to distillers (they are, after all, specialist craftsmen). The playful ‘sip’ was then thrown into the mix because it reflects the boys’ outlook on life and how great quality spirits are meant to be drunk……and the rest is history!
If you want to join in the fun with the “sip-smiths”, make sure you book early. Tours are sold out months in advance so you need to snap up tickets quickly: have a look here. Alternatively you could try the Winter Cocktail Experience on The London Eye, book here.