North London's Cultural Guide

Ich Bin: Ian Hart, gin distiller

Meet the founder of Sacred, one of north London's best loved gins

Ian Hart: 'Maybe people perceive me differently.' Photo: Sacred
Ian Hart: ‘Maybe people perceive me differently.’ Photo: Sacred
Ian Hart was born in Highgate and, with his partner Hilary, is the co-founder and distiller of Sacred Spirits. Their gin was awarded a double gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Ian now produces a further twelve drinks, including a Christmas Pudding Gin (well worth getting to liven up the festive meal, trust us).

What is your favourite smell?
A roast in the oven at midday – just when you’re getting hungry.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That when you seem to have failed completely, you haven’t. It is how you learn from mistakes that defines success in the future. Keep going.

What makes you unhappy?
When people close to me are having a hard time, being unhappy themselves. I am generally OK.


What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
Being six inches shorter – it would certainly make flying more comfortable. On a plane I mean. Obviously.

What is your guilty pleasure?
A martini at Duke’s Bar in St.James – although I don’t actually feel guilty about that, so probably eating Haribos when watching Veep or Nurse Jackie.

Where do you hang out?
All over the place: Soho, Camden, Islington, Kentish Town, Highgate. It’s one of the perks of working in the drinks industry; and the selection of cinemas, bars and restaurants in those areas is the best in the world.

What is your favourite dish and why?
Grilled salted mackerel at Jin Kichi in Hampstead. Even typing this answer makes me long for it.

What are you working on right now?
I am creating a new amber coloured vermouth with quinine (Kina) to match Kina Lillet as used in the Vesper Martini created by Bond in Casino Royale 1953. I have the only three unopened bottles left (I think!)

What did you do today?
I put 10kg China Calissaia into alcohol and water to start quinine extraction, then I put a duck, venison sausage and pork belly cassoulet into the oven for supper.

Describe yourself as an animal.
My nickname is Eeyore – who is the grumpy old donkey in Winnie the Pooh as I remember, but I feel happy-go-lucky inside. Maybe people perceive me differently – like with the nose thing.

Who or what do you love?
My children, my mother, brother and my partner Hilary. Not forgetting Chateau Haut Brion – and gin, of course.

For more info follow @SacredGin on Twitter or see

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