Beam Suntory has taken a “controlling stake” in London-based microdistillery Sipsmith.

The deal will allow the craft spirits producer Sipsmith to grow its international sales via Beam Suntory’s wider distribution network.

Under the terms of the deal, global drinks giant Beam Suntory, which is now the world’s third largest spirits company, will take a controlling stake in Sipsmith, but the London distiller will continue to be run by its founders.

“This is a momentous occasion for Sipsmith,” said Sam Galsworthy, Sipsmith co-founder. “As leaders of the gin renaissance in the UK, we have worked tirelessly to share our gin of the highest quality with discerning sippers. In this new chapter, we have found the perfect partners to take Sipsmith to all four corners of the globe, and do so whilst retaining our quality gin, astonishing team and Chiswick distillery in London. The team at Beam Suntory shares our values and pursuit of excellence. Fairfax and I will remain fully involved in the business, working harder than ever to achieve our vision of a gin that will stand the test of time and be sipped around the world.”

Galsworthy started the company in 2009 with Fairfax Hall and Jared Brown. It was the first copper-pot based distillery to start up in London in 189 years. 

“With incredible skill and passion, Sam and Fairfax have built an extraordinary super-premium gin that is synonymous with London and the utmost craftsmanship,” said Matt Shattock, chairman and CEO of Beam Suntory. “We’re thrilled that Sam and Fairfax will continue to lead the business and make their gin true to their brand vision. We really admire what they’ve accomplished, and we’re very excited to team up with them to maximize the global potential of Sipsmith. Sipsmith’s pioneering spirit and Beam Suntory’s strong routes to market around the world are a winning combination.”

Commenting on the deal, Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine & Spirit Trade Association, said: “It is great news and unsurprising to see a young British company like Sipsmith – and its employees – being taken on as part of the Beam Suntory portfolio of internationally recognised brands. It is a real sign that the Great British Gin Take-Off is happening not just in the UK, but is going places internationally. 

“The UK has a strong and vibrant gin history, with London at its beating heart even giving its name to the production process used to make London dry gin itself. It first became popular as a drink in England in 1689 when King William of Orange dropped the tax on spirit production to encourage distilling and help prop up grain prices. Even today the UK is central to the global gin industry – and London Dry Gin – with three out of every four bottles of gin imported around the world coming from the UK. This news is a true testament to the quality of British products.”

Beam Suntory, which was formed in 2014 when the Japanese whisky maker Suntory bought US rival Beam, has a host of drinks in its portfolio, including Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark borbons and Yamazaki whisky, Laphroaig Scotch and Courvoisier cognac.