In 2009 Sipsmith became the first copper-pot distillery to open in London since around 1820.
Price: ~ £28
If you’re a fan of gin, then you have a lot to thank the guys behind Sipsmith for. Arguably, this is the brand that kicked off the resurgence of gin, fighting and paving the way for changes to UK law in order to allow ‘small batch’ distilling. There are literally dozens of distilleries that would not exist were it not for them.
To my shame, I’d not tried this gin until very recently (as is evident from the fullness of the bottle in the image!) so I thought it about time I gave it a review.
The bottle shape is standard, but has some embossed elements, with their signature swan on the front, and the name of the distillery on the back, along with a scripted statement that the gin is hand-crafted in small batches. The label is green with a nice foil inner, featuring the swan head emerging from a copper still, along with an illustration of a juniper bush. The rest consists of the usual information, but a lovely touch is that the front label is back printed with more illustrations of juniper. It’s instantly recognisable, though not hugely stand-out.
Personally, I find the swan a bit freaky, and don’t get me started on the new adverts with the anthropomorphic swan with giant hands…
First impressions on the nose are dry, woody notes with a beautifully resinous juniper, and when I say ‘woody’ I mean it smells of freshly cut pine, rather than musty furniture. There’s no burn whatsoever, and a deep inhale brings out earthy, nutty elements. I’d wager there’s a good amount of orris here, and I think the almond plays a big role too. The spices don’t really come through, and the citrus is hinted at in the background, but the stars here are the roots and juniper. It’s almost like the smell of a sauna, there aren’t many gins I can think of that smell like this, but it really is wonderful.
Neat the flavour is a very classic, dry juniper followed up by a lovely zesty citrus. It’s a very smooth taste, with a light, almost delicate but robust flavour. On contact with the tongue there’s an incredibly refreshing, fruity sourness that quickly gives way to a lovely earthy spice. Everything is so wonderfully balanced it’s a real journey of flavour that doesn’t have any dead ends.
Water brings out the flavour of the spices, without really changing the overall profile, so the whole experience expands and improves. The citrus, in particular the orange, comes through a little more, but never gets sour or bitter. In fact the balance remains much the same, just better, and I’m able to pick out more flavours.
Finally, a G&T (3:1 Schweppes 1783 Light) with a wedge of lemon (I didn’t have lime I’m afraid). The result is astounding. This is what I think I would imagine a G&T would taste like, if I’d never had one before. There’s an insane amount of fruity flavour to this, and I think the orange and cassia/cinnamon have truly come to life here. It has the perfect balance of sweetness to bitter/tart flavours, with a fresh earthy herbal touch too. That juniper flavour is truly something to behold. It’s quite summery given its freshness, which some may not prefer in these dark and wet November evenings, but it would almost feel like complaining that it was ‘too good’.
Sipsmith have a new superfan. This gin is nigh perfect, and for me that woody juniper is just incredible. It puts me in mind of another gin that’s rested in juniper casks and is over twice the price (though still worth it, don’t get me wrong). In the best way possible, it tastes like knawing on a sweet hunk of juniper wood. I am at once ashamed that it has taken me this long to get a bottle, but also glad that I feel like I’m far enough along in my ‘journey’ as a gin drinker to appreciate just how good it is. Put simply, this is an absolute must have gin.
Sipsmith is available online and in shops
All reviews are of the author’s personal collection, bought and payed for by the author, unless otherwise stated.