- Jonathan Winters
Sipsmith London Dry Gin Review
A gin that opened the door for craft distillation
Review Sipsmith London Dry Gin
Made in: London, England, by Sipsmith Distillery London
Method: Macerated and distilled in a copper pot still.
41.6% alcohol/43.2 proof
Botanicals: Juniper, Angelica, Lemon zest, orris root, orange zest, cassia, cinnamon, licorice, coriander, almond, (I’m sure there are more but I can’t find information about them).
Style: Traditional London Dry
This review is for batch LDG, bottle 01016
Sipsmith came to the fore just over a decade ago when three guys Fairfax Hall, Sam Galsworthy, and Jared Brown, two of whom had nothing really to do with the drink industry decided to create their own gin - the best London Dry gin made. But of course it wasn’t that easy. The big problem was an old British tax law that prohibited anyone from distilling in a still of less than 1800 liters.
They challenged that law, and got it overturned, which maybe doesn’t sound very important, but it was, not just for the guys who created Sipsmith, but for every craft distiller in the United Kingdom. WIthout these three the whole British craft distillery might never have gotten off the ground. For that we owe them a great debt of gratitude.
About a year after this after much trial and error they found a formula they liked and launched their flagship gin and their distillery in London. It was the first new copper still distillery in London since 1820.
This is a very classic gin, and it’s pretty much a workhorse that can do everything. It’s a solid sipping gin for those who like the London Dry profile. It’s soft enough to sip, but bold enough to enjoy neat, though it’s best on the rocks.
Scentwise the first thing I thought of was a meadow on a summer day. I smelt grass, pollen, and floral notes. Behind that there is juniper, and sharp citrus notes. Notably lime and sweet orange.
While the flavor profile here is largely classic London Dry, there is certainly enough uniqueness here to differentiate it from the rest of the pack. Juniper certainly leads the way, followed quickly by lime, essense of orange blossom, and a flavor I associate with almonds or cashews, and finished with a slight flavor of angelica, cardamom, and a twinge of cinnamon heat.
On the palate the gin is light, aromatic, and slightly sharp.
With its take on a classic flavor profile Sipsmith is designed to be a good mixing gin.
While it’s not an elite martini gin, it makes a very good martini. What it misses is a certain sharpness I associate with a great martini. It’s a wee bit bland in that regard. That is the missing element but that can be addressed with what you garnish it with.
I thought this gin would be an outstanding choice in a classic gin and tonic, and it almost lived up to my expectations (to be fair, things often don’t) That said, there was something just off enough in the mixture, in either a 3:1 or 4:1 mix with Fever Tree Indian tonic, that it didn’t quite make my elite list. I did like the faint note of orange and nuttiness here, but something was just not quite elite.
However where it wowed me was in a few other classic cocktails - it stood up like a champion in a perfect negroni (perfect in that it used a 1:1 ratio of sweet and dry vermouth for the vermouth portion of the negroni). And it was also damn good in an Aviation, so much so that I might make this one of my regular Aviation gins.
As a mixing gin Sipsmith has a very good niche. It makes for an excellent gin in cocktails, especially complex ones. In simpler drinks where the gin stood out a bit more it had some minor flaws which were exposed. Maybe for that reason I didn’t find it quite as good as a sipper or in a gin and tonic.
That said for anyone looking for a London dry flavor profile Sipsmith might be an excellent choice.
Rating (Sipping): 81 - There are some levels of subtlety here, and I can see why this gin was once considered as a very unique gin. But as craft gins have flourished, some of that uniqueness has been lost as competitors made their own versions of the classic flavor profile. It does have some unique flavors though - especially a nutty factor which is rather enjoyable.
Rating (Mixing) 86 - This is a great mixing gin in most multi ingredient cocktails.
Overall rating: 83 - This one deserves a place in liquor cabinets as a great mixer, and fun overall gin.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who thought I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.