Anyone who’s visited Sipsmith’s HQ will be greeted by the sight of our gleaming, beautiful copper stills. Without them, we simply couldn’t make our award-winning gin.
But some might ask: why copper pot distilling? Apart from the undeniable aesthetic appeal, copper plays an important, even essential, role in the gin-making process.
While stills can equally be made from stainless steel, aluminium, and a range of other materials, we find that copper is the very best option. It helps, firstly, that copper is exceptionally good at conducting heat (which is the same reason that chefs lust after copper saucepans). When heat is dispersed evenly over the surface of the still, the result is a more efficient distilling process…and better gin.
Then there’s the way that copper reacts on a molecular level to produce a naturally clean and smooth spirit. Without getting too technical about it, know that copper helps strip out volatile sulphuric compounds as the gin distils, a process which removes any unwanted flavours and aromas from the final product. Copper also has antimicrobial properties (which reduce any possibility of contamination), is highly malleable, and is resistant to corrosion (an essential trait when your stills work as hard as ours do!)
Given that Sipsmith was the first copper-pot distillery to open in London in almost 200 years, copper is at the very heart of our ethos—and, we like to think, is a big reason why our gin tastes as good as it does.
When we opened our doors in 2009, we did so in the company of Prudence. Our very first still, Prudence was designed with the help of Christian Carl—a family-run business based in Germany that has crafted top-of-the-line distilling equipment since its founding in 1869. Prudence is a one-of-a-kind work of art: her bespoke design combines a pot with a carter head and a column still. In other words, she’s beautifully versatile, and can equally distil our London Dry Gin, our Sipping Vodka, and our V.J.O.P. with aplomb.
It was when we relocated to our current headquarters in Chiswick in 2014 that our second copper still joined the Sipsmith family. That would be Patience, who started life as a small maceration tank but has since been fitted with headgear that allows her to distil as ably as her sister.
Recently, we were thrilled to add two more stills to our sisterhood. Meet Constance, who, as our largest still, produces the lion’s share of our London Dry Gin. Her lovely appearance is only part of her charm: in a role where consistency is of the essence, she’s never let us down. Then there’s little Cygnet, who has a 50-litre capacity and is ideal for trialling pilot distillations and other small-batch experiments.
In short, we wouldn’t be where we are without our beautiful copper stills. Cheers to Prudence, Patience, Constance, and Cygnet, then, for making our spirits as pure and delicious as can be.