A few weeks ago I was supposed to be having a relaxing weekend in Edinburgh with mom, discovering the history of this mysterious and solemn city. Surprisingly, I ended up debunking some gin-myths and collecting new gin-stories for you to enjoy.
Hang on a second… Did you really believe that? The truth is that I researched the distilleries that I could visit even before looking at the fast-track tickets for the castle and I was craving for an en-Plein of Scottish gins to add to my gin-app.
I didn’t lie about the false myths though. For example, If you’ve always taken pride in Gin being mostly an English thing such as toad in the hole, tennis etc. you may want to reconsider your beliefs as 70% of this soon-to-be most fancy spirit drank in the UK, is produced in Scotland. Edinburgh is also the ‘capital’ for gin-drinking with the highest rate of mother’s ruin consumption per-capita than anywhere else in Great Britain. At least for once, finally something is not London-centric in this big Island!
Pickering’s distillery tour
I must admit that visiting Edinburgh Gin distillery was very tempting but checking out a new and almost unseen brand on the London scene, was a magnet for my gin-curiosity. Firstly because of its location within the Summerhall, a creative hub for over 100 art start-ups but also know locally as a former School of Veterinary until 2011. Trust me, if you walked past you would never imagine the world that would unlock behind those big doors, let alone a distillery and its lovely pub, ‘The Royal Dick’. Secondly, because recently I’ve been a magnet for gin-fairy tales of regular people and fellow mother ruin’s lovers making their dreams come true.
I could tell that Pickering’s gin evening & distillery tour would have been an interesting one when my stereotype of a distiller went into pieces only a few seconds after we were introduced to our funky, blue-haired, young Australian tour guide as well as gin-master at the company. Minutes later, she took us where the Pickering’s magic happens: from the distillation process until the bottling and shipping. Everything is done in-house!
I know what you’re thinking: this place must be huge. Not exactly, can you imagine a London’s one-bed flat? Well, it’s probably only slightly bigger!
Here, in what it’s thought to be a five to seven days process, ethanol is transformed into this flavoursome gin before being poured into these edgy bottles and sent to fifteen different countries. Not too bad considering that the Pickering’s is celebrating its third gin-anniversary this March!
What’s the secret behind the success of this gin? If you will visit the laboratory at any point in the future try to look around you until you’ll find an old and framed Bombay gin recipe on the walls. It was given to Markus – one of the founders – by one of his father’s buddies. It’s believed that the two friends spent a lot of time travelling across India and when they got back to the UK intended to make something out this unique recipe but for some reasons, they never got around it. Years later, his son is making his father’s dream becoming true.
It wasn’t easy at the beginning, it took the founders a lot of time, sacrifice and money before Pickering’s gin was ready to be launched. The two friends never surrendered and instead developed incredible DIY skills to make their ends meet while they were perfecting their recipe for the modern gin-drinker palate. Very romantically, some ‘relics’ are still involved in the production. For instance, the spirit collector is an old boiler and an oar is used to stir the alcohol!
Nowadays the company distills four different type of gins: a very smooth classic one that goes perfectly with tonic water & slice of grapefruit; a spicy navy strength edition that can be quite peppery on the mouth and tongue; a sloe gin, and finally the original one – the same of the Bombay recipe from the 1947. Due to its cinnamon finish, the latter apparently doesn’t work really well with modern tonic water but can be enjoyed it with ginger beer. I definitely have to give it a go sooner than later!