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New London distillery launches first spirits

A new artisan distillery called Sipsmith (coincidentally, set up in the late whisky and beer writer Michael Jackson’s former office in Hammersmith, London) has begun production of a Barley Vodka and London Dry Gin. The first two of a family of handcrafted spirits has been launched this June.

Co-founded by Sam Galsworthy, formerly head of sales and export for Fullers brewery in the US, and Fairfax Hall, who studied at Wharton Business School before taking up a role at Diageo in strategy, Sipsmith is an independent spirits company dedicated to creating exceptional small batch artisan spirits. Each batch (less than 500 bottles) is distilled using a bespoke copper-pot still called Prudence. This is the first time for 189 years that a copper pot distillery has launched in London.

Each batch is made using Lydwell Spring water, one of the sources of the Thames, and is cut from the heart of the distillation to ensure a perfect balance of flavours and aromas.

“By producing our spirits on such a small scale, we are able to give every batch our undivided attention,” says Jared Brown, Sipsmith’s master distiller. “We believe that drinkers will appreciate the craft and care that goes into every Sipsmith bottle.”

Jared Brown, known for his prolific drinks writing and as director of Exposition
Universelle des Vins et Spiritueux, has developed spirits in Sweden, Norway, Vietnam, and in the US where his ancestors began making beer just after the revolution.

He describes Sipsmith London Dry Gin as “having a gentle texture offering juniper, lemon tart and orange marmalade flavours, followed by fresh lemon zest and more intense juniper, with dryness leading another wave of flavour in the finish”. The Sipsmith Barley Vodka, he says, “delivers a medley of sweetness, nuttiness and subtle, luscious spice, leading to a rounded finish that balances sweetness with dryness”.

The Sipsmith distillery, formerly the micro-brewery for a local pub and latterly the offices of Michael Jackson, now houses a bespoke, 300-litre copper from Christian Carl, a family-run distillery-maker in Bavaria, that has been making specialist stills since 1869.

When asked how come the distillery is in Michael Jackson’s old office, Sam Galsworthy told The Drinks Report: “I had been to Michael's office when I worked for Fullers. When I visited the site as a potential location for the distillery, and realized where it was Michael's place, I signed on the dotted line to purchase almost immediately."

Pictured (l-r) Fairfax Hall, Jared Brown, Sam Galsworthy


1 June 2009 - Felicity Murray