The Spirit of Independence

Local copper-pot distillery becomes first to be established for 189 years

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The Distillery - Naysmith Street

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Although Hogarth did his best to ruin its reputation in the 18th century; the links between gin and West London remain as strong as ever.

The artist’s depiction of the drunkenness and debauchery in Gin Alley also did little damage to the industry with distilling and sales of the spirit said to have taken place in as many as one in four buildings in some parts of London.

Two centuries later, decline in demand and rise in costs meant that the majority of the factories closed down or moved away. But now it seems there could be the start of a renaissance of gin production in the area after copper-pot distillery Sipsmith becomes first to be established in the capital for 189 years.

"We always dreamt of creating a truly artisanal family of spirits of uncompromising quality, and in late Spring 2009, our handmade copper-pot still, “Prudence” gently delivered our first batches of gin and vodka," write Sipsmith Founders Sam and Fairfax (pictured left with Prudence).

After years working in the drinks industry, they struck out on our own to pursue their passion for beautifully handmade spirits. "We call ourselves “sip-smiths” to celebrate the craft of distillation and our artisanal methods."

Of their premises, they say, "We like to think buildings have a soul. Ours, in Hammersmith was once home to the esteemed whisky expert Michael Jackson, and before that, was the micro-brewery for a local pub. Now it is where we craft and hone our artisanal spirits. It is as if it knew what it wanted to be all along.

"We designed our still with Germany’s oldest distillery producers, Christian Carl – a small, family business who have been crafting stills since 1869. There is only one like this in the world. Distilling our gin involves carefully balancing a whole host of aromatic botanicals to create a drink that is dry, spicy, and full of character. In this process, Prudence bypasses the fractional distillation column to retain the intensity of the botanicals."

They are currently running a competition to win a beautiful wooden presentation box containing one bottle of their London Dry Gin, and one of their Barley Vodka, both from their very first batch. See for further details.

August 5, 2009