As we head towards this years International Scottish Gin Day, I have decided to feature a small number of Scottish Gins that I have never reviewed before.
International Scottish Gin Day highlights everything that is great about Scottish Gin, from its history, locally foraged botanicals and of course the vast variety of products that the country produces, and just like many English Gin’s, lots have their own fascinating and unique story behind the brand.
First up in these features is Pickering’s Gin, who proudly boast to be Edinburgh’s first exclusive gin distillery in over 150 Years.
Their Gin is based on a recipe that dates back to 1947 India, with a handwritten Indian recipe that was kept a family secret for over 66 years. When re-descovered and used it gave a gin full of fragrant spice and citrus.
Pickering’s decided early on to remove the cinnamon from this old recipe and replaced it with angelica, to give a well rounded Gin, more in keeping with more modern tastes. Then in order to make the gin softer and smoother, Matt Gammell (Joint founder with Marcus Pickering), used his engineering background to build a bain-marie heating system for their 500 litre copper still.
This Bain-Marie heating system allowed the botanicals to be macerated at low temperatures for 24 hours before distillation took place, allowing for maximum absorption of flavours and aromas. The resulting gin became an award winning product in its own right. However at a later date they also decided to launch ‘1947‘, which rather excitedly goes back to the exact recipe from that handwritten note. This gin has also won hearts and has since become a favorite amongst foodies and gin lovers.
Since their launch in 2013, they have continued to expand their range, with a Scottish Botanical Gin, which uses four indigenous Scottish botanicals- heather, milk thistle, bog myrtle and Scots Pine which lend sweet, earthy and floral notes to their Bombay recipe, plus four flavoured gins, all using 100% natural flavours.
Pickerings kindly sent me two of their flavoured gins in their current 20cl form, however these are soon to be launched in larger 50cl bottles, so you can enjoy them for longer.
The first I tried was Strawberry and Black Pepper. At first glance it seemed a strange combination, however the more I thought about it, the more excited I was to try it.
Pickering’s are an official supplier to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and were asked to provide an alternative to their recommended serve, as it contained grapefruit (which can affect certain medications including Statins), the alternative serve of Strawberry and Black Pepper garnish was born.
Then in the summer a selection of flavour options were sent out in the form of a poll to those on the Pickering’s mailing list. It was Strawberry and Black Pepper that was one of the most voted for, and therefore came to production as a flavoured gin.
On opening the stopper, I really expected to be hit by a sweet strawberry aroma. This wasn’t the case however and I’m please to report that it was the Juniper that was instantly recognised, with the strawberry sitting subtly in the background.
Weighing in at 37.5% ABV, these are proper gins with the flavours added naturally.
No flavourings or sweetners are added to the gin and on the palette it is pleasantly dry. The strawberry, discreet and well integrated compliments the citrus notes with the black pepper helping to give a warm and spicy finish.
After trying neat, I make a G&T using a light tonic so as not to overwhelm the naturally sweet and spicy elements of this gin. The recommended serve would be to serve with a strawberry and black pepper garnish, however just home for the weekend, I was completely without. Mixed with the tonic, it makes a really easy drinking and moorish G&T – who would have thought it, I actually love Strawberry and Black Pepper Gin!
Next up I tried their ‘Forget Me Not‘ Gin. The blueish pink flower of the Forget Me Not’s are traditionally given as a gift by a loved one in the hope that the recipient will not forget the giver.
This gin came about as a valentine gift idea, however has grown even more in popularity recently. At a time when people are separated through social distancing rules, what better way to bring a smile to a loved one, then for this little (Soon to be bigger) blue bottle making its way to their door.
Freshly dried forget-me-not petals, heather and lemon myrtle are distilled together with eight of their signature Bombay botanicals as well as butterfly pea flower being added, which has a unique colour changing property.
This gin was more floral and herbaceous on the nose, but again with juniper evidently present. For those that love a truly floral fragrant gin, this will be a massive hit, again with a light tonic this works well, however I found this worked best with a citrus hinted tonic, like a London Essence.
These gins are something I probably wouldn’t have picked out on a shelf, however I would have missed out, the strawberry and black pepper specifically is outstanding and leaves me wanting to try more.
There are four flavoured gins currently in the offering from Pickering’s, sold at just £12 for a 20cl bottle. Joining the two I’ve tried are Blood Orange and Caraway or Lemon and Basil.
With so much happening over at Pickering’s, the best was to stay upto date is to sign up to their mailing list here, they also offer their #GinFriends 15% off their first order!!!
Stay tuned for more Scottish Gins as we continue our countdown to International Scottish Gin Day 2020