A new one on these pages…..its not Rum but it is something that most of us at one time or another will or have used to carry our precious beloved liquid……but what is the story behind the carrying of a hip flask?
Dating back from medieval times, initially ‘personal flasks’ were made of glass or leather with the ‘pilgrim bottle’ being associated with religious pilgrimages….flat on one side and rounded on the other, they often had rings attached to the base of the neck through which you could thread a chain, rope or leather to attach it to your person or to your horse’s saddle. The idea of a hip flask or pocket flask appeared in Georgian times (1714 to 1837) but rose in popularity during the Victorian era (1837 to 1901). Solid silver or pewter were the materials of choice in combination with other materials such as glass (to enable you to see the fill level) or leather. Occasionally they had a screw top that could be used as a vessel. Popular for pursuits such as hunting or fishing, a gentleman would require a flask of his favourite spirit to keep him warm during these pursuits. Ladies of the 18th Century would board docked British warships to smuggle gin in a makeshift flask made of a pigs bladder hidden inside their petticoats. I’d also imagine that flasks have made many trips to see in-laws more bearable…..I know that have improved similar weekends for me! Though they are not to be confused with the tools of alcoholism (such as a bottle in a brown paper bag) as they generally hold only 6-8oz of liquid and in my experience, that liquid is made for sharing.
As far as my own experiences go, I am an avid user of hip flasks. I have purchased hip flasks as gifts and have been given hip flasks as gifts. My gifts to my two best men on my wedding day were hip flasks and the gift that I received for my 21st Birthday from my employer at the time was a hip flask….in fact it is this hip flask that has served me so well for the 17 years that I have been using it! It’s a little tatty now but the most important fact is that I has never leaked. Rounds of golf are always better with a warming drop of something on a chilly Sunday morning and I always attend a wedding with a flask of good Rum in my jacket pocket! It’s the most important part of your attire for the day…..along with a cigar of course.
I had first encountered SWIG flasks when my friend Scott, the writer of The Whisky Moose posted an image of his new flask via Twitter. Fast forward several months and I was contacted and asked if I would like to trial a SWIG flask, as an avid user of hip flasks, of course I said yes!
SWIG are a fast growing London-based start-up, who produce high-quality hip flasks and pouches.
SWIG as a company is the brainchild of David Galbraith who in 2013 sold up and moved from Northern Ireland to follow his vision of making ‘the worlds most reliable hip flask brand’. SWIG flasks are of a seamless stainless steel construction which can be supplied with a wide range of accessories.
I was asked to choose which version I’d like to trial and so to keep personal tastes out of the equation for the purposes of writing, I chose to trial the naked flask in a gift box with the accompanying stainless steel funnel to fill up the flask. The flask itself arrived in a flat two-part red and black box, adorned with a black ribbon and brandishing the SWIG logo in the bottom corner. Once open, the beautiful seamless stainless steel 170ml flask lies upon a patterned black cushion and has a card set on top. This card holds the web address required to access the ‘SWIG Society’. This is a global membership club for owners of SWIG flasks with your status corresponding to your flask number….a little like the hierarchy in The Stonecutters from The Simpsons! Speaking of flask numbers, beautifully engraved on the flask that I am trialing is #03475. You receive a monthly email containing pictures from the community, information, articles and each month a SWIG Society member can win the prize of a bottle of whisky based upon their flask number!
The first thing that strikes you is the absence of any seam lines, save for the neck joint and one thing unfamiliar to me is the fact that the screw cap is not connected to the flask by any means. Something that I have never encountered previously. There is the ever-present fear that you could lose the screw cap….a fear that is further confirmed when you notice that spare caps are available for purchase on the SWIG website. There is also that familiar curved shape that enables it to sit comfortably in your jacket / trouser pocket. Everything is suitably chunky and solid feeling with no light metal on metal noise when screwing the cap open or closed. The biggest challenge of any hip flask is the desire to never have the liquid leak. So far in the five weeks that I have trialled the flask it has accompanied me to work, on various trips to visit friends and relatives and it has also made the short hop over to Paris. No leaks as yet and long may this continue. I would definitely advise you to buy a pouch as the flask does mark easily, especially if you intend to carry the flask in a bag of some sort. That said there is no flex in the body of the flask indicating that a suitably robust material thickness has been used. You also don’t get the feeling that this is a brittle piece of kit which is good as it commands a hefty price tag. The funnel which sadly does not fit in the gift box is the most impressive flask filling device that I’ve encountered. A large bowl means that there are no hesitations required when pouring as is the case usually which means that there are no spillages as a result of having to constantly slow pour the bottle. There is a real sense of occasion when receiving and opening the package and as far as gifts go, flasks in particular, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better one. One thing to add is that engraving is also possible so that the flask arrives suitably labelled up with whatever message you choose. Aside from this, I may have found the replacement for my soon to be decommissioned 21st Birthday present. I of course reserve the right to revisit this article based on the performance of the flask and rest assured I will feed back any further observations.
The ‘Naked’ Flask is currently available for £41 with the ‘Naked’ Flask gift set that I have trialled currently available for £61.
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In the interests of clarity, I was provided with a flask by SWIG to trial for the purposes of this article