Thursday 17 February 2011

Dear Prudence - Sipsmith Distillery

Real life is getting me down a bit at the moment. A winter which seems to be lasting forever, a longer commute to work, Paul being away so much and some deeply tedious cash-flow hitches are all giving me a distinctly gloomy outlook.

Fortunately, I paid Tastour for this Sipsmith Distillery outing about 9 months ago, so we could have a night off from reality in good conscience.

Sipsmith, in case you haven't been reading the London foody news (and if you haven't, I can't really blame you) is the first licenced distillery in London in 200 years. They have a glorious steampunkesque, hand-made copper potstill called Prudence.

The adorable Sam (I do love posh blokes with floppy hair) poured us very strong gins and tonic on arrival. It was the echt G&T experience - long, cold, slightly bitter and aromatic. He used Fevertree tonic and a slice of lime. Just as it should be.

Inside Prudence - I think this bit is the fractional distillation column

When everyone had arrived, Sam gave a history of gin drinking in London with some amazing "facts" (which I have been unable to verify, but he seemed pretty convincing) about 100,000 children dying of the effects of alcohol in 3 years in the 18th Century. And they say cheap lager is a problem in this country.

Then we got down to the important bit: the tasting. Sipsmith make both gin & vodka, and we got to try both. Amazing. I honestly never thought I would taste a vodka that was full-flavoured and aromatic enough to sip, neat, without even being chilled. And the gin, oh the gin! I have been a Bombay Sapphire girl for many years now, but the Sipsmith just takes the biscuit. There were a couple of people who were saying they could identify particular aromatics in it; I couldn't do that (and honestly? There are about 10g of aromatics in 250l alcohol, to produce 125l gin, so I'm a teensy bit sceptical that anyone can pick "lemon peel" as a distinct flavour without being told it was there) but the overall flavour landscape is just gorgeous.

Kelly from Tastour then brought around trays of cheese and charcuterie, to soak up the next (less strong) G&T.

As fascinating as the adorable Sam was, and as delicious as the tasting was, the absolutely best bit of the night was leaving. At the door we were each handed a goodybag with a bottle to take home - so my new most treasured possession is a bottle of Sipsmith gin. It's a bit sad when your most treasured possession is a consumable, so the Sipsmith boys will have to stay in business forever to keep me supplied.


Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

That sounds like an incredible evening and what fun!! LOVE the take home gift, perfect!!

Caroline said...

Hope real life picks up a bit for you soon. At least the weather should be getting (slightly) better and longer days too.

Thanks for the review though - sounds like you had a great time. I'm not much of a gin drinker myself but I think that this might well be my brother's birthday present sorted.

Rachel said...

You can't just describe a posh, adorable man with floppy hair and not show his photo, Foodycat! Not fair.

But I'll still join you across the pond in a gin and tonic made with much more inferior gin tonight after work.

Jude said...

I tried the gin at the last Good Food Show I went to. It's wonderful isn't it? I can't remember being offered the vodka though.

I too hope real life improves soon.

Sadly I'm off the sauce at the moment . . .

Alicia Foodycat said...

Andrea - it really was great!

C - the longer days are making me feel a bit better!

Rachel - there are some pics of him on the Sipsmith site! I was too busy listening to him to take pics.

HH said...

Sounds fabulous FC!! Dare I ask if it is better than Hendricks? I shall have to sample some once I get back there.

Hope real life picks up for you.

Bettina Douglas said...

Barley vodka? How interesting.
If you can't taste the specific aromatics, no-one can.

That sounds like a great expedition.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Jude - they do a sloe gin too, but I didn't get to taste that.

HH - I think it is better than Hendricks!

Mother - it was good. Into the wilds of Shepherds Bush, and I have never been there before!

Heather S-G said...

What an awesome little escape! I love tours and it makes me smile just to hear of your little jaunt. I wonder if this is available in the States? I've never heard of it before.

mscrankypants said...

I hope the last dregs of your winter die away so you can help claw back your mojo!

Prudence is a most interesting piece of equipment, and the bottle labels designs are pretty interesting, too.

Jude said...

Do you happen to know who stocks their products FC? (Just in case I go back to it).

Alicia Foodycat said...

Heather - they've been running less than 2 years, I am not surprised you haven't heard of them!

Cranky - a bit of the still is called a swan neck, hence the swan on the label.

Jude - Waitrose is stocking it.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry you are feeling so down. I think it is a general "trend" recently, at least in my circle of friends. I hope things will start looking up soon. I am a great fan of gin, but mostly a Tanqueray gal (especially No. 10 when I can pay for it). I also love Hendricks, but not in a G&T. Sounds like you had fun at the tour, you should do such things more often!

Deb in Hawaii said...

Sounds like a wonderful evening and tour--and you have to love the take home gift. ;-)

hungryandfrozen said...

I love that they named it, and named it Prudence. And what a fantastic parting gift, gorgeous label :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Jo - I think it is the time of year! Very depressing.

Deb - it's hard to reject a goodie bag.

Laura - I know! They decided that it was very imprudent to chuck their jobs and put all their savings into a distillery!

Dharm said...

This sounds like so much fun!! I'm a Gordon's bloke myself although Bombay Sapphire is good stuff and I dont mind a Beefeater as well. Am I showing my alky tendencies here?!! Glad you had a great time!


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