The Piper Podcast: Sipsmith Gin Founders On Refusing To Hear The Word “No” – And Changing The Law

Fairfax Hall and Sam Galsworthy, two of the three co-founders of premium craft gin brand Sipsmith, have told how an ‘insane level of naivety’ helped them to rewrite 200 years of history and build a new gin distillery in London. 
Hall and Galsworthy are childhood friends from Cornwall who had been ‘nicking gin from the drinks cabinet since we were very small’. Working in the drinks industry, at Fullers and Diageo respectively, they had the idea to create a gin brand from their own distillery in London. But they soon found that archaic 18th century laws prevented it.
‘We applied for a distiller’s licence and were told “no”, says Hall in the latest episode of Piper’s ‘How I Grew My Brand’ interviews with leading entrepreneurs. However, the pair were undeterred. ‘I think that’s part of the beauty of the entrepreneurial mindset. You have this incredibly potent combination of naivety and optimism and determination – and those three factors drive you on. If you knew what you knew, you’d never start a business.’
Hall and Galsworthy spent two years lobbying HM Revenue & Customs for a licence and eventually it was granted.  Having teamed up with master distiller Jared Brown, the three founders launched Sipsmith in a Hammersmith garage in 2009 – London’s first new copper distillery since 1820. Today it is a multi-million pound brand which, in 2016, was acquired by Beam Suntory, one of the world’s largest distillers.
In an interview with broadcaster Mary Nightingale, the pair discuss the ‘cultural change’ as the brand hit 17 staff, the ‘total disaster’ of expanding to 49 countries, the value of ‘recruiting people who knew the square root of nothing’ and why it’s vital to ‘get a relationship with your bank manager before you need it’. They also reveal how ‘Prudence’, the first of their four stills, was ironically named after Gordon Brown’s economic watchword.
Piper’s ‘How I Grew My Brand’ podcasts launched in 2018. The third season focuses on the challenges faced by co-founders – Mindful Chef’s Giles Humphries and Myles Hopper were interviewed in the first episode. The first two seasons have featured interviews with PROPER co-founder Cassandra Stavrou; Loungers co-founder Alex Reilley; Neom Organics’ co-founder Nicola Elliott; Camden Town Brewery founder Jasper Cuppaidge and Deliciously Ella’s Ella Mills. All previous episodes can be streamed via Soundcloud on or downloaded on iTunes and Spotify.

Have you listened to our founder stories?

[28 Jun 2020] - With lockdown coming to an end, we thought this is a good time to showcase all the outstanding founders we have interviewed for our 'How…

Read more

The Piper Podcast: Flight Club founders on raising £160,000 in an afternoon

[15 Mar 2020] - Steve Moore and Paul Barham, co-founders of social darts chain Flight Club, have told how they were forced to raise £160,000 in an afternoon after…

Read more

Our £11.5m investment into smart bike brand Wattbike

[13 Sep 2020] - We are delighted to announce our £11.5m investment into Wattbike, the world’s first smart indoor bike brand, joining the impressive team, led by CEO Rich…

Read more

Piper successfully exits Forthglade having quadrupled branded sales 

[1 Sep 2020] - We are delighted to announce that we have sold our stake in natural dog food brand Forthglade to IK Investment Partners. We want to thank…

Read more

After-Covid: The New Work Order

[5 Aug 2020] - In the Before-Covid (BC) age, life was different. An almost forgotten era when we traipsed through the office complaining about our journey in and worried…

Read more

Raising a glass to all those in hospitality

[15 Jul 2020] - ‘Went to Hickory’s on the first night after the lockdown and the first thing I can say is WOW. The things that they have put…

Read more