When the Sipsmith Gin-Shop opened its doors for London Cocktail Week, it played host to some extraordinary creations from the Sipsmith Lab. This week, as we launch our new Sipping Service, we’ve been reminiscing about some of our favourites…
Sipsmith Ham & Mustard Gin
On a chilly December morning in 1813 an unusually thick frost descended on London. As streets ground to a halt and three days of heavy snowfall began, stalls and tents popped up along the frozen River Thames selling liquors, meats and gingerbread, as enterprising Londoners looked to make a quick shilling out of what became known as London’s last great Frost Fair.
Seduced by these images of chilly Londoners enjoying a dram of gin with their roasted meat, Head Distiller Ollie wanted to create a spirit that evoked the scents and flavours of the Frost Fair, and Sipsmith Ham & Mustard Gin was born. With bold flavours of burnt honey and caramel from the Macken’s Wiltshire Ham, and a peppery warmth from distilled English Mustard, this would surely have been the most comforting of pick-me-ups in the frostiness of Georgian London.
The Out & Out
In the background of George Cruikshank’s 1835 drawing ‘The Gin-Shop‘ you can find a barrel that features the curious name ‘the Out and Out 696.’ The recipe for this strange sounding gin may be long forgotten, but that hasn’t stopped Ollie from being inspired to create our very own Out & Out, a showcase of the most important component of any gin and featuring only one botanical: out and out juniper.
This unadulterated, naked juniper gin has berries sourced from three different countries to show the diversity and nuances of what juniper can do. Macerated first in oily Macedonian berries, these give the gin a woody spice reminiscent of our classic London Dry Gin. The high notes come courtesy of Bosnian juniper that is added just before distillation to achieve a clean, pine flavour, and finally the gin is steeped in Serbian juniper post-distillation to give a creamy sweet finish.
Lapsang Souchong Gin
Famous for concocting the very driest of martinis (he believed the vermouth bottle should merely be looked at during preparation), Winston Churchill’s penchant for gin was well known in his day. Less well known was his love of the smoky Chinese tea Lapsang Souchong, a black tea that is smoke dried over pinewood fires and which Churchill frequently drank with a splash of scotch.
Inspired, but being much more partial to a tot of gin rather than scotch, we set about creating a smoky Lapsang gin that would evoke the flavours of Churchill’s favourite pick-me-ups. Infused using the finest tea leaves, the gin imparts a complex, smokey aroma but with a bitersweet flavour and sweet, refreshing dryness. Perfect to drink in a ‘Churchill Martini’ (i.e. on its own), it’s remarkable how many dimensions of ‘smoky’ you can experience in each sip.
An old Scottish family recipe for bramble whisky was the inspiration for our final gin; passed down through generations, it came to Ollie’s attention when the youngest member of the Campbell clan (and esteemed Sipsmith team member Freddie) brought a bottle to the Distillery from the family home in the Kingdom of Fife.
Ollie immediately began tweaking the recipe to make it more gin-friendly, and set the team out on a foraging mission. The brambles (or blackberries to most outside of Scotland) are sourced from various gardens and hedgerows across the country, with the final harvest inadvertently containing some raspberries and redcurrants in the way only home foraged produce does. This gives the gin a much richer, deeper flavour than just bramble alone, with a delicious natural berry sweetness. The skins imbue a long dry finish that is crying out for tonic water creating a sensational autumn G&T.