In Highgate, outside a row of red brick double front breasted houses, the smell of affluence circulates the air but not the smell of gin. I am on the hunt for Ian Hart’s Grandmother’s home where Sacred Spirits was birthed in her kitchen.
However, it quickly comes to my knowledge that due to the international growth of Sacred Spirits, they have expanded to two other sites. I am at neither and quickly hop in an Uber to The STAR* three miles down the road which hosts Sacred’s micro distillery.
I’m greeted by Alexander Jefferys, who whisks me through the pub and upstairs already launching into the history and progress of the distillery. The dynamic energy perspired by Alexander is certainly a reason Sacred has had the stamina to produce twenty five plus products and winning Gold in The San Francisco Spirits Competition for Sacred’s Classic Gin. I’m later told this enthusiasm has bled down from the top dogs themselves, Ian and Hillary who live and breathe Sacred.
As I walk into the bar there is a slight peppering in the air of Cardamom. Sacred’s cardamom infused gin seems to be the promising older brother in the Sacred family just after the Classic Gin. So much so, that Sacred are giving the handsome brother a new suit to wear in the form of an Indian bohemian new bottle and label. This new look certainly takes away the Cathedral esc stature of the previous bottle and grounds the gin back down to its botanical base roots. This will be available to buy June 8th. I realise the immediacy of the deadline as John, the apprentice distiller, badgers away in the corner eradicating imperfect labels. Quality control is clearly key amongst the Sacred ranks.
The distillery is split into two worlds. That of of the micro distillery and that of the bar; Science and fun. The complexity and fragility of the distillery glass really takes me by surprise as it hides behind a wall. John leaves quality control to agitate a dark black liquid. The confidence in which he
manipulates, condenses and distills the fluids from one chamber to the next is quite a juxtaposition to the delicate frame of the apparatus/ art that was hand blown in York and designed by Ian Hart himself.
It feels as if no one should be touching it at all and that it should be on display in The Tate (which happens to be one of Sacred’s commission’s. You can purchase Tate Sacred Gin from The Tate Shop for £32).
”Sacred is the Spirit of Innovation’’
professes Alexander before looking hesitantly at John as they begin their story of Ian Hart’s first few attempts at creating gin. With the use of such apparatus being used in sheds and kitchens in the early years, John and Alexander agreed Ian to have a likeness to Walter White with the origins of Sacred Spirits –
‘Getting as close to Breaking Bad as it gets’.
The Sacred Spirit family seems to be expanding. Having taken on Alexander two and a half years ago, branching out to Belgium and taking on two new distillers, the company has also reflected growth in it’s products. As we walk round to the fully stocked bar, Alexander is keen to show
me a few new additions. Old Tom Liquorice Sweetened Gin sits in a puuurfectly striking bottle that comes with a gold cat name tag attached to the head. No stranger to innovation, Ian and Hillary have reinvented whisky as we know it. We have butterflies decorating English Whisky Liquor and Peated English Whisky which certainly stands out on a shelf full of heavy masculine branding from their competition.
With all this choice, I had to ask Alexander what would be a his drink of choice on a warm summer’s day.
‘It would have to be a Rosehip Spritz. Which is three measures of sparkling wine, two measures of Sacred’s Rose Hip Cup, soda water, ice and a slice of orange.’