After years of experience in the publishing and PR industry, Sam Espensen and co-founder Phil Gillies are cooking up a storm with their snazzy range of spirits. Damn, they’re good.
As the unstoppable gin revolution rumbles through Bristol’s thriving drink scene, and the buzzing cocktail culture draws in hordes of thirsty punters, Bristolians are hungry for more adventurous tipples. Cue Sam Espensen of Espensen Spirit, who creates small-batch spirits in St George. It’s a company with a meaningful story and plenty of spirit behind it.
Sam says, “I can’t think of a better place to start a company than Bristol, particularly a spirit brand, as the South West is historically linked with rum and gin, and today the city has a thriving pub and bar scene.”
It all started out with Sam making booze for her family and friends and in 2005 decided it was high time to turn her popular recipes into a one-of-a-kind business with her friend, Phil. And good job she did, too. Made using fresh fruit, zero artificial colours or flavours and base alcohol from Langley Distillery, the quality speaks for itself in the contemporary concoctions.
The great range of launch products offer a whirlwind of flavours and include Gin Genie blueberry gin, Ruby Cuby rhubarb and custard vodka, PG Sips pink grapefruit and raspberry vodka and Pump Up the Jam raspberry gin. With such a fun and cool brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s no wonder everyone’s falling head-over-heels.
“They are bringing a breath of fresh air to a category of drink that often gets relegated to cocktail addition, rather than the main event,” says Chris Scullion of Independent Spirit of Bath.
Brand manager, Charlotte Cripps says “People just love the designs and really get behind the brands tone of voice and beliefs, people especially like the ‘sauspension bridge’ logo which really was the most fun to design.”
The team is committed to good causes. You can drink knowing donations from the sale of every drink will be made to various local charities – as if you need another excuse to guzzle them down.
“For me, Espensen Spirit has a philosophy that goes beyond creating great drinks. It’s about our team, the local community and the idea that we are an integral part of that,” explains Phil.
It’s the story behind the company that’s of particular note. Sam was abandoned by her mother at the age of nine and had a father who was in and out of prison, which led to Sam being diagnosed with CPTSD (complex post-traumatic stress disorder) and TBI’s (traumatic brain injuries) as a result of the abuse she suffered. It was this diagnosis that transformed Sam’s view of herself and she hopes talking about her own issues, and discussing her background will inspire other people who have similar problems to improve their own situations.
It’s Sam’s story and her connection with people that comes across each bottle of Espensen Spirit. She tells us: “I have decided to be proud of my ‘Espensen Spirit,’ as that is what has helped me get through tough times. Besides which, all the best alcohol has an unpronounceable name, and it’s a good pun!”