As a small company committed to producing only books we’re completely passionate about, it’s natural that we have a tendency to look out for other little guys around town.
There is something really special about discovering other ‘passion products’ – things that are built up by people who really care about what goes in, what comes out and the consumer experience. Recently, a few of us have had brilliant experiences with other companies who are doing really special things on a small scale but making a big impact!
Roaming around the backstreets of Hammersmith on a cold January night we could hardly believe that somewhere buried amongst the rows of neatly kept Victorian family homes with their straight hedges and polished letter boxes we would find a gin distillery. But indeed, knocking on the door of a seemingly tiny garage we were welcomed in to the tardis-like home of Sipsmith.
I would very much like to give you a detailed run down of the history of gin, the ideas behind the project and the process by which a license was found and gin began to be produced. Unfortunately on being welcomed in, I was handed a gin and tonic that was exquisite in taste and high in proof, and I’m somewhat sketchy on the details. This much I can tell you – Sipsmith are the first company to receive a license to distil gin in London for over 200 years, and their ‘copper’ (the beautiful contraption named Prudence that distils the alcohol) is the only one like it in the world.
Most impressive however were the people behind the project, and their passion for making beautiful things. At Sipsmith each batch is made by hand, with real ingredients and botanics – it is the only gin in the world made using the traditional ‘one-shot’ method rather than a concentrate. The result is an artisan product, one that takes time, energy and passion to create and as a result tastes all the better for it. Each glass was astonishing and the scents of almonds, chocolate, cherry and marzipan that wafted from the Sloe gin were quite wonderful. I am now determined to find a bottle to call my own! (and it is my birthday so… hint hint guys…).
I was not the sole recipient of this incredible tour – I was also joined by my friend Natasha, the owner of a bespoke food business called Animal Vegetable Mineral. Coincidentally AVM are producing some very exciting treats to go with our SAVAGES mailing… but I won’t reveal the gory details. Natasha has made edible hair, bacon sandwiches, pineapple clouds and edible Antique prints. This is not run of the mill.
When I told Amy O about my new found passion for the little guys she told me I had to check out Picco Salumi, a family run business dedicated to producing amazing salumi from the best British free range meats. When Amy last swung by she ended up sharing a plate of cheese, bread and meat with lots of local folk and even staying for dinner! It’s so reassuring that places like this still exist when every day a new Tesco’s or Starbucks sprouts from the ground like Bindweed.
Big companies are all very well – they churn out products that have been filtered, cleaned, filtered again, vacuum packed and sprayed down with disinfectant. They are clean, uniform, reliable…. And totally void of character, quirkiness, passion or love. Finding lovely people putting their souls into something special will make that thing all the better. It will be full of heart and love. It will probably make you live longer and grow taller (no scientific evidence on that one just yet….). Go into an indie bookshop and you will find someone who can rifle through towering piles of novels to pull out one just right for you. Log on to Amazon and a whirring machine somewhere in Switzerland can tell you that you definitely need fifteen different types of toaster even though you got one last week and you only accidentally searched for it….
Have you found any hidden gems? Any passion projects that are producing really beautiful things? Does anyone want to send me a bottle of Sipsmith Sloe Gin?
Book a gin tour here (@SipsmithSam)
Buy Salumi here (@piccosalumi)
Check out AVM curiosities here (@TashaMarks)
Buy HKB books here! (@hotkeybooks)