Britain’s love affair with all things heritage shows no sign of waning. From the obligatory elbow patch to nostalgic automobiles carting braying weekenders around the countryside, anything that my grandparents know more about than me remains synonymous with quality and style. Here, tradition resolutely holds its own in a world driven by innovation.
It is with this sentiment in mind that Stamford Galsworthy and Fairfax Hall (you couldn’t make it up! Although reassuringly Stamford is known as Sam…) founded Sipsmith – an artisan distillery brand – in 2009 in a quaint, eccentric little Hammersmith garage with a cheerful blue door. Spotting a gap in a seemingly saturated market for small-batch, quality spirit distilling, the boys shipped over the first copper distillery to hit London in nearly 200 years – a gleaming red beauty named Prudence – and it began.
With the help of Jared Brown, Sipsmith’s Master Distiller and a spirits historian, Sipsmith has wasted no time establishing itself as the chicest, sleekest, most covetable gin on the market. The team has won several awards, including the prestigious Observer Food Monthly award for Best Newcomer in 2010. Iconic, charming and frankly beautiful packaging aside, it is the pure, bold flavours (10 botanicals are used to make their classic London Dry Gin) that makes Sipsmith special. The range has expanded to include vodka, damson vodka and sloe gin, and also includes a light, fruity Summer Cup (watch out Pimms!).
A great part of Sipsmith’s charm is its sense of adventure and imagination as a brand – the team travels incessantly to explore new markets and drinking cultures and no project is too ambitious for this boutique company. Most recently they have launched a Gin Palace at The Langham, London (open until 24th November), with a cocktail list celebrating each milestone in the history of gin.
The little blue door leading to the distillery
Chatting to Sam to find out more, it is instantly apparent where the company’s boundless energy comes from. Beaming rays of juniper-flavoured cheeriness, Sam is raring to go and only his trademark gravelly tones belay the late nights and hard work that have been so instrumental to Sipsmith’s success. His passion for the art of distillery and for his brand are palpable and despite a manic schedule following his return to London after 6 months in Barcelona (more exploring) he is delighted to sit down for five minutes to offer an insight into his story.
My first taste of alcohol was… gin. My mother gave me a nip to send me to sleep!
The vision behind my decision to set up Sipsmith was… to kick start a renaissance of craft distilling in the home of gin, London, with a firm belief that when you craft things by hand in small batches the quality and character is greatly improved.
The biggest challenge so far for the team has been… getting the license to distill and keeping up with demand!
The most exciting thing about my job is… meeting passionate Sipsmith drinkers
The Sipsmith memory I will always treasure is… the opening night of the Sipsmith and Providores pop up we held at the distillery
The thing that makes Sipsmith unique is… that we are the first distillery in London for 200 years authentically making London Dry Gin
If I had to describe a Sipsmith customer in 3 words they would be: Fun-loving, discerning drinkers.
The Sipsmith product-du-jour is…Sipsmith damson vodka, which is ideal for the long winter nights coming up!
My proudest [Sipsmith] moment so far has been…Picking up best newcomer at the Observer Food awards in 2010
My 3 favourite bars in London are…Dukes Hotel for an unbeatable martini, The Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell and The Dove in Hammersmith
And in NYC…The Pegu Club, Death & Co. and The Room
If I had one day in London, all to myself, I would…Have breakfast at the Wolseley, then take a boat through Little Venice to the Dock Kitchen for lunch. I would bag a front row seat at Prime Minister’s Question Time, finishing with dinner at the River Cafe (with a Sipsmith G&T, obviously).
This interview and article was by Sophie Stewart.Google+