Alexandra Spurgeon, Majestic Wine Marketing Assistant, recounts her visit to London’s hidden distillery.
“It’s amazing the things you come across in London,” remarks our cabbie as he whisks us to the Sipsmith gin and vodka distillery for an exclusive tour and tasting session.
And it truly is. We pull up on a quiet residential street in Hammersmith and think we must be in the wrong place. So we’re relieved to spot Fairfax Hall, one half of the team behind Sipsmith, waving to us from what appears to be a big blue garage door halfway down the street.
On entry, we’re immediately greeted by Prudence, Sipsmith’s handmade copper still, designed by Germany’s oldest distillery producers and which was squeezed into the building with just 2cm headroom to spare. With faces lit up by pride and a contagious enthusiasm, Fairfax and co-founder Sam Galsworthy take us through the Sipsmith story, and of course, the many functions of Prudence.
Their original application for a licence was rejected because the customs office simply didn’t know how to issue one (there hadn’t, after all, been a distillery licence granted in London since 1820). However, after 18 months’ research, the customs office were finally ready to present the pair with a few scribbles on a torn off piece of paper: a licence that now sits, framed, centre-stage on the windowsill, a little piece of history in itself. Paperwork complete, Prudence first ran on 14th March 2009 and has been producing superb spirits ever since.
Having filled us in on the back story, the guys then filled some glasses for the bit we’d all been looking forward to – the taste test. Every sip showcased the time, care and dedication that goes into hand-crafting their sloe gin, dry gin and barley vodka. The London Dry Gin was a personal favourite, but I’d recommend them all highly. Lovely guys, great story and an all-round fantastic product.
Sipsmith London Dry Gin, 70cl, 41.6%
Floral summer meadow notes followed by mellow, rounded juniper and zesty, citrus freshness. The gentle mouthfeel combines with lemon tart and orange marmalade flavours, ahead of a spicy juniper finish.
Sipsmith Vintage Sloe Gin, 50cl, 29% New!
This authentic, handmade, wonderfully balanced sloe gin is subtle, complex and bursting with sweet cassis flavours, offset by a delicate tartness.