As soon as I’d booked my flights to dear old Blighty, I began compiling a list of places to visit. It will come as no surprise that Sipsmith Distillery was at the top.
I have a great deal of time for team Sipsmith, not least because of their superb gins, but because they take the time to visit Melbourne on a regular basis.
Situated in a the heart of West London, Sipsmith Distillery is tucked away in a nondescript building at the back of a car park, the only hint of the sorcery within is the magnificent swan logo painted on the external wall.
The distillery was buzzing at 3pm on a Monday afternoon. Scanning the room I saw a bartender training session in full flow, a tour group standing in front of the stills learning about distilling techniques and Ollie Kitson, Head Distiller flitting between the stills and visitors.
Sam (Galsworthy) proudly showed me round and introduced me to the only Sipsmith I haven’t met, Fairfax, plus the fantastic team behind the scenes.
Front and centre are the gorgeous Carl stills, Constance and Patience. I’ve yet to discover the reason distillers name their stills. I suppose they are like their children, so need names? Patience was resting, with botanicals mascerating gently in her pot.
To the left on the stills is Ollie’s ‘den’ for want of a better word. The back wall is lined with jars with mysterious contents and hand written labels. A large blackboard dominates the space, outlining the distilling schedule with abbreviations in chalk hinting at secret projects (I didn’t photograph it for obvious reasons).
Next to the bar is is a wall covered with large glass jars with names, dates and ABVs scribbled on the front.
Ollie explained that these were the results of some of his experiments (and those of Jared Brown the master distiller). With taps on the front for easy pouring it seemed rude not to sample some! Sam also told me that they encourage locals to bring excess fruit from their gardens into the distillery for Ollie to play with and that they then come and sample the results at a later date.
I was particularly drawn to the Olive Distilled gin which was AMAZING. Like the best kind of dirty martini. (If they ever launch that commercially I will be buying it in crates.)
It was wonderful to visit the home of one of my favourite gins and exciting to see where the magic happens. Some of the experiments going on were so intriguing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the Olive Gin becomes more widely available. As a parting gift Sam gave me one of those little experiments to take home, a Gin Cordial for Gimlets.
These are not for sale and I am so happy to share one with the lucky winner of the World Gin Day Mega Giveaway Hamper (competition closes on Friday 19th June).
Sipsmith Distillery, 83 Cranbrook Road, Chiswick, London W4 2LJ. Follow them on Facebook, twitter and instagram.
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