In many ways, mass production has its pluses; but small-batch is becoming a mot clef for those in search of some fresh spirit for their cocktails.
Gin, traditionally the first bottle the British reach for when the sun is over the yardarm, is starting to get the small-batch treatment. Hendricks led the way, Caorunn out of the Balmenach Distillery in the Scottish Highlands is winning accolades and now Sipsmiths is bringing artisinal distillation to the Smoke.
The flavours of such production tend to hit with greater intensity, and because the batches are much lower than commercial production, the quality, not to mention the cache and inventiveness, is high. Though just a few months old, Sipsmith is already a favourite with London’s smart drinking set.
Fronted by the improbably monikered Sam Galsworthy and Fairfax Hall, the independent label produces just 200 bottles a week under the watchful eye of master distiller Jared Brown. ’We wanted to bring back the art of hand crafted spirit-making,’ says Galsworthy.
Headquartered out of a small converted garage in London’s Ravenscourt Park, the centrepiece of the operations is Prudence, a custom made copper pot still – incredibly, London’s first in 189 years – that transforms Lydwell spring water and ten botanicals including juniper, crushed almonds, Seville orange peel and liquorice root into a sophisticated, heady spirit.
’It’s an up-front classic spirit, unmasked by overpowering infusions and unnecessary botanicals, created to show we are smiths of our craft,’ says Galsworthy.