Sipsmith Independent Distilleries is the first distillery to open in London in almost 190 years. It was started by Sam Galsworthy, Fairfax Hall and Jared Brown. Sipsmith is one of the 4 distilleries in London proper joining Beefeater, the London Distillery Company and Sacred Microdistillery. Besides the London dry and Sloe gins, Sipsmith also produces a barley vodka, Damson plum vodka and their version of Pimm’s called Summer Cup.
On the label is the goose-neck still named Prudence. Sipsmith now has a second still but they are still considered a craft spirits distiller. Their small batches in a year is probably what Plymouth would make in a day.
Sipsmith’s master distiller Jared Brown, a noted spirits writer and historian, did a wonderful and thorough presentation on gin. In England, beer breweries were inspected and it was hard to obtain a license to manufacture. Not so with gin. Anyone and it seems most people did become distillers. They took advantage of the poor and paid no heed to anything but making a profit. A famous drawing of Beer Street and Gin Lane illustrates the era.
A side note, I also learned of Prohibition prescriptions for the first time. Apparently some got around the American prohibition by getting a prescription from their doctor to treat various ailments. Imagine being prescribed champagne instead of cough syrup!
The first food pairing Jared could find with gin was a street snack of gingerbread along with your favorite street swill gin. This was a popular snack at public executions in England. Gory. Instead we enjoyed our gingerbread cookies with gin in the lovely back house behind Alcove Bakery and Big Bar.
I tried Sipsmith gin with tonic, neat and also with wormwood. Apparently wormwood grows wild all around California and contrary to popular belief, it is not actually going to make you crazy. It has a long history of medicinal use and is usually associated with treating stomach ailments. After leaving a bundle of wormwood in a glass of gin for probably 30 or so minutes, we tried it and it had taken on a silky, heavy mouthfeel. I think it would be really cool to then try to do a sour or fizz with wormwood infused gin.
I really liked Sipsmith and think it’s a proper London dry. I would love to see how this stands up to Campari in a Negroni. I’ll be doing a “spot the Sipsmith” tour soon.
© LA Cocktails // The Minty 2013