My sister got lovely-girlfriend and I tickets to go on a tour of the Sipsmith distillery for christmas this year. Yay! When we came to redeem the vouchers, the choices were last Wednesday, or waiting until the end of April. Patience not being one of my virtues (I suppose it’s higher up the list than temperance), last Wednesday it was!
We made our way via Turn Ham Green to a warehouse in Cheswick, were we were greeted by a very polite man with a clip board, who pointed us through a right blue door in a wall with a swan painted on it. So far, so very much like a piece of interactive theatre. Beyond the blue door was a large room with three stills and a bar.
It was pretty damned cold (not surprising given that we were stood in a warehouse in west London in the middle of January). The remedy provided to this was a hot gin and tonic! Fantastic – gin, tonic syrup, hot water and a thing of orange zest. Very welcome and very tasty – I will be procuring/making tonic syrup at some point soon so I can make it through the winter in one piece!
This was followed by a talk on this history of gin, why that history of gin lead directly to today’s culture of binge drinking in the UK and finally a history of Sipsmith and how they got their distillers licence. Apparently they’re the first new gin distillery in several hundred years – the last being my Nana’s favourite (and by inheritance mine) Beefeater (Beefeater is distilled within walking distance of where I live… that should probably be a thing too!). We were then taken over to the stills to start talking about the distilling process. But first another drink (I am compelling by lovely-girlfriend and her love of an obscure TV series to go ‘deduh deduh deduh de’ after typing that). Vodka. They gave us vodka to show us what their gin would be like without the botanicals, which is fair enough – but I’ve never really gotten vodka and wasn’t there for vodka.
We were then given a talk on gin and what makes good gin and the differences between craft gin and more mass market gins, with tasters of gin, Summer cup (which was a lot lovelier than drinking neat pimms would be!) and sloe gin, which was nom, but possibly not as good as my sisters. Finally we were presented with a gift set and the hounds were unleashed. All being told, it was a really nice evening. I was tipsy enough to wander off with the tasting glass, but not so tipsy that I also wandered off with the tin cup the hot G’n’T came in.