I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. Gin is a Very Good Thing. So being invited along to a Gin Masterclass with Sipsmith at the fabulous Minster Court bar? SO IN, SO GIN.
Like many of you probably will be as well, I was already familiar with the Sipsmith brand and their super-snazzy, beautifully designed bottles. Coincidentally, a week and a half earlier, we’d actually picked up two bottles on the way to Dublin to give to Conor’s family as thank you gifts – so it’s already at the forefront of my mind as a drink that’s got a proper London feel to it.
Minster Court is located between Monument and Tower Hill, a really nice upmarket yet welcoming bar with amazing mixed drinks. I definitely recommend the Regent’s Punch – the main ingredients being Courvoiser & Appleton – its zingy, refreshing and very easy to drink. As well as drinks, we were also treated to some nibbles from their food menu – the chicken was fantastic and the mini glazed sausages were incredibly moreish.
Our gin masterclass host for the evening was the wonderful Briony, who clearly has so much passion for Sipsmith and knows absolutely everything there is to know about the brand. Seriously, she does. Here are just some of the things we learnt about the brand…
1 | Sipsmith’s spirits are created using a copper still, built when they first launched in 2009 – the first of its kind in London to be built since 1820 – called Prudence. Her name comes from Gordon Brown’s favourite buzzword, and she also has three sisters called Patience, Constance and Cygnet. Prudence has a capacity of 300 litres – very small in the drinks world. To compare – the amount of product Sipsmith creates in a month, Tanqueray create in a morning. But for Sipsmith founders Sam, Jared and Fairfax, it’s all about quality over quantity.
2 | The gin is created with a ‘one shot’ method – rather than making a concentrate that’s blended with the neutral spirit, their method involves distilling the botanicals WITH the spirit.
3 | Sipsmith create their spirits by hand in small batches with dedicated Distillers. Sipsmith is a London Dry Gin, but the name isn’t actually location reliant – what makes a gin a London Dry Gin is what’s added to it. For it to be a London Dry, only three things can be added to the gin – water, alcohol and sugar. Unlike many other gins, Sipsmith only add water to their gin, meaning it’s far purer than other brands. Therefore, probably less likely to give you a horrific hangover – hooray!
4 | Navy Strength Gin like Sipsmith’s V.J.O.P came about wayyy back in the 18th century, when it was so popular that all ships HAD to have gin on board at all times. Sensible. Navy strength has an ABV OF 57%+ – a strength at which gunpowder would still light even if the gin spilt onto it. V.J.O.P comes in at 57.7% – which can be quite a shock to the system if sipped neat, but tastes great with a splash of tonic.
5 | As well as gins, they also offer two vodka products – Sipping Vodka and Damson Vodka (the latter which we currently have a bottle of on our pretty extensive shelf of half-finished spirits at home – I’ll probably be sipping from this one again very soon!).
6 | There’s actually a proper way to taste Sipsmith (and indeed any) gin. I KNOW, fancy right? First, you swirl the glass like you would if you were at a wine tasting, then tip it almost horizontally. Sniff at the top of the rim of the glass – where you’ll find the citrus and floral notes in the original Sipsmith London Dry – and then the bottom, where it’ll be more dry and warming. Take a sip of the gin neat first, then add tonic water to taste.
As well as learning loads about Sipsmith, we got to try out three of their most popular tipples – the classic gin, Sipsmith V.J.O.P Gin (which stands for Very Juniper Overproof FYI) and their Sloe Gin. The Sloe Gin was probably my favourite – super fruity and perfectly complemented by Bitter Lemon as a mixer. The original London Dry was also fantastic – really crisp and fresh tasting.
Minster Court offer a range of drinks masterclasses including this gin masterclass, and it’s definitely a great chance to learn more about the booze you’re drinking. I had a wicked time learning about Sipsmith with some great London food and drink bloggers for company – and it’s a brand I definitely plan on turning to lots in the future for my gin-based needs. Which, lets face it, are pretty regular. G&T, anyone?
*I was invited along for a complimentary evening – as always, all gin appreciation is VERY genuine (or should that be ‘gin’uine…)