Cocktails with… Pickering’s Gin

Gin distilleries used to be found across the British Isles, but, until recently, after decades of shrinkage, gin distilling was concentrated in London with just a few outposts in the Midlands, Scotland and Plymouth (flying the flag in the West Country). But Edinburgh, one of the gin capitals of the UK (given the number of fine gin bars there, not least Bramble Bar) was without a distillery. Until now, that is.


Located in an old animal hospital in south Edinburgh, the Summerhall Distillery is the first gin distillery in the city for 150 years and they have recently launched Pickering’s Gin. Based on a recipe found on a mysterious “fragment of paper” dated 17th July 1947, it is bottled at 42.0%ABV, has a neutral grain spirit base, and contains a mix of nine botanicals:


The gin is distilled in a 500 litre copper still named “Gert”, which is heated via a custom bain-marie system, designed to heat the botanicals without overcooking them.

On its own
Nose: Lime and coriander jump out immediately, followed by the juniper and then some spice.
Taste: This has a lovely, smooth texture with very little burn and a light, silky start, as well as a touch of lime, a little fennel and anise. The flavour then builds, bringing in a dry, slightly floral juniper and coriander, followed by a subtle twist of spice. The finish is of dry juniper and angelica – very classic. Overall, this is a very silky and sippable gin and, despite having a fair bit of spice, including cloves and cardamom, thankfully these are not too heavy and do not detract from the flavour of this particularly balanced gin.

Gin & Tonic
This is quite a light and airy Gin & Tonic, with the lime coming through well, accompanied by some coriander and some of the gin’s spiced elements. The finish is a mixture of earthy, bitter quinine and dryness from the angelica and juniper. Delightfully refreshing and with a lightness that makes it perfect for the afternoon.

Spice and coriander come through. This is also rather citrusy, with a fresh lift from the lime, making this a clean, crisp and excellent Martini. My garnish recommendation would be a lime twist.

A well-integrated and smooth Negroni that has a lively kick at the end, courtesy of a combination of the following flavours: citrus, dark chocolate, and an earthy, herbal bitterness. Although the Campari only comes through at the end, it provides a bitter and intense finish to the drink that lingers on and on.

Waverly Station Master
Rather delightful: the citrus notes contrast nicely with the smokiness of the Scotch, resulting in a wonderful smoky lemon-lime flavour. This is one of the more subtle Islay Scotch Martinis, but, nonetheless, I think that it works rather well.

In Conclusion
Although Pickering’s Gin has a lot of classic characteristics, a more contemporary flair is also apparent with the use of lime. The result is a fresh and light gin that still has plenty of flavour and is equally pleasant drunk neat and in mixed drinks. My favourite drink was the delicious Gin & Tonic.

Pickering’s Navy Strength

Gin is booming in Scotland, with new distilleries opening and a number of new gins being released from existing establishments. Along with Sloe or Aged Gins, Navy Strength Gin (57-58% ABV) is a common second product for distilleries to release.

On its own
Nose: Green juniper and rich spice, resulting in a clean, but highly aromatic nose.
Taste: This has a thick and oily mouthfeel, and plenty of juniper come through, along with a little coriander and sweetness, before some sweet, slightly bready spice. This is particularly mellow for a Navy Gin, but has more power on the finish.

Gin & Tonic
Rich and bright juniper; fresh, with a touch of bitterness and sweetness. There’s then some warm spice – cinnamon and ginger – and a well-rounded bitterness at the end.

This is a cocktail with a lovely selection of big flavours: a mix of juniper and more subtle spice notes. Towards the finish, there are notes of chocolate and bright citrus.

Pickering’s Navy produces an intense Negroni – the extra ABV really carries the gin through the vermouth and Campari. There’s a touch of menthol bitterness on the finish, which is long and lasting.

In Conclusion
Pickering’s Navy Gin is a bold and flavoursome gin with the distinctive spice element that is in equilibrium with the other botanicals, stopping it from becoming a “Christmas spice bomb” of a gin. The Negroni had excellent flavour, but my favourite drink was the Gin & Tonic, which had just the right level of spice – not an easy thing to do!

Pickering’s 1947 Gin

Pickerings 1947 is a limited edition (only 1,000 bottles made) gin that has been released to celebrate the 2015 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The recipe is made precisely to the original recipe that their flagship gin is based on, which was dated 17th July 1947 and written in Mount Mary, Bombay.

It is bottled at 42% ABV.

On its own
Nose: Warm spice and citrus with a hint of light, woody salinity.
Taste: This has quite a thick texture, with an array of woody, earthy spice notes, such as cassia and nutmeg, as well as dry, oaky notes. The dryness comes through towards the end, accompanied by anis and a hint of black pepper.

Gin & Tonic
A pure and spicy Gin & Tonic from the first sip; thankfully not too sweet, with a nice citrus fruitiness on the finish.

Herbaceous, with sweet spice, before the dryness of the vermouth and complex flavours from the fruity floral dryness of the gin, resulting on a long, clean finish.

A lightly sweet Negroni with a hint of nuttiness, before the dry, herbaceous, bitter vermouth and a light, bitter-sweetness from the Campari. The finish is long and dry.

In Conclusion
I find the exploration of old gin recipes to be fascinating and it’s great that more distilleries have the freedom to develop and release these historic editions. My favourite cocktail with Pickerings 1947 was the Martini.

Originally posted 15th April 2014

Cocktails with… Edinburgh Christmas Gin

The production of seasonal editions of spirits has seen a growing trend in 2015, with more and more distilleries creating them, although the first appeared a few years back. Edinburgh Gin kicked off their seasonal range with a Christmas Gin in 2014 – this is a spicy gin with frankincense and myrrh as botanicals.


Following its success, Edinburgh Gin have released a new edition in new, funky, festive packaging for 2015. A little late to the party, but here are my tasting notes for the 2014 edition.

On its own
Nose: Spiced notes and raisin, combined with fresh, crisp, green notes.
Taste: Almond, chocolate, and spice upfront, reminding me of Christmas confectionery. This develops into notes of anise and leafy fennel, which add freshness. Finally, there are some citrus and coriander flavours, before a dry and crisp juniper finish that lingers.

Gin & Tonic
Rich raisin and lots of delicious spice, as well as a hint of caramelised sugar and dark chocolate. Despite all of these rich flavours, it maintains its freshness.

This is a cocktail that’s packed full of dried fruit and spice. It’s dry, but with a good level of sweetness, too – almost like a “perfect” (mix of sweet and dry vermouth) Martini.

Very spicy and rather soft, with hints of cream and vanilla, as well as cinnamon, cassia, nutmeg, and (thankfully only a touch of) clove. This cocktail provides a more gentle approach to the gin; a good way to get the family to try it over the Christmas period.

In Conclusion
This does exactly what you’d expect; it is festive and spicy, without going overboard. My favourite drink of those that I tried was the Negroni – a wonderful seasonal cocktail.

Cocktails with… Edinburgh Raspberry Gin

Most of our readers will be familiar with sloe gin and as, in the past few and upcoming weeks we have been/will be looking at various homemade flavoured gins, it seemed like a good time to look at a new commercial flavoured gin, Raspberry Gin.

This is made by Spencerfield Spirit, the makers of Edinburgh Gin, using local Perthshire Raspberries. Whilst contemplating making a fruit liqueur for the winter, Edinburgh Gin also tried various recipes for damson and sloe gin, but finally decided on the Raspberry, because it tasted best. I think that it’s great to see some variation added to the products in the “Sloe Gin Niche” and, in my mind, some of the finest raspberries I have had are Scottish, so their choice of fruit makes perfect sense. It is bottled at 20%ABV.

Nose: Intense, jammy raspberry with a hint of tartness and some creamy vanilla notes;as a result, this somewhat resembles raspberry ripple ice-cream.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth upfront. There are also the sweet, spicy elements of Edinburgh Gin, followed by the fruity and slightly tart raspberry. There is some sweetness, but this is well-balanced with the tartness of the raspberry.

After being kept in a breast pocket for a while, the Raspberry Gin has been gently warmed to great effect. To taste, there’s a lot of fruit with some hints of vanilla and spice. It is quite warming, but also soft and smooth, making it an especially good choice if you find straight spirits a bit much for a flask.

The lower temperature brings out some of the fresher, crisper notes of the Gin, making for a more refreshing drink. Similarly, the liqueur also works well over ice.

With Bitter Lemon
The Long Peddlar is a classic sloe gin drink and it works well with the Raspberry Gin. Itis less sweet and tarter than the sloe gin version, which, to me, makes it crisper and more refreshing. This would be a good way to enjoy this Gin in the summer, should you happen to have any left.

With Tonic
With tonic, this Gin makes quite a tart drink. There’s a more subtle vanilla sweetness, but with more of the tart berries coming through, this is – overall – a very refreshing drink.

Very pleasant, indeed. Initially, I thought it was quite tart and, although pleasant, was less comforting than a toddy usually is; however, this was quickly remedied by a little squeeze of honey. The result was a delicious toddy, with the raspberry still coming through. Very nice.

Vale of the Martinez
[50ml Raspberry Gin, 25ml Dry Vermouth, 10ml Maraschino, 2 Dashes Orange Bitters]
This was my favourite new drink of 2011. Like a number of the previous cocktails, this is usually made using sloe gin, but I substituted Edinburgh’s Raspberry Gin to great effect. This is a superb drink: hints of raspberry jamminess contrast nicely with a touch of cream on the finish, ensuring a great balance of sweet and dry; a perfectly formed cocktail.

In Conclusion
This is a really great product and easily equal to many of the great sloe gins. I always appreciate innovation and think that this is a really great example, which has clearly been thoughtfully created to be a great taste of Scotland.

Edinburgh Raspberry Gin is available from Master of Malt and Royal Mile Whiskies for  £15.95 for 50cl

A 20cl version is avaialble from for £10

For a review of the Original Edinburgh Dry Gin please click here.

Cocktails with… Edinburgh Gin

Edinburgh Gin is made by for the Spencerfield Spirit Company famous for, today, being behind the Pig’s Nose & Sheep Dip Blended whisky brands. The gin was designed to reflect the glory days of Edinburgh Distilling where it was both a center of spirit excellence and innovation.
Edinburgh Gin is bottled at 43%ABV and botanicals include:




Lemon Peel

Orris Root

Milk Thistle



1) Own
Nose: Juniper, Angelica and Cinnamon
Taste: Quite soft & smooth with a lot of Christmas spice, nutmeg and cinnamon.

2) Gin & Tonic
Some juniper, quite spicy, reminds me of Christmas. Cinnamon at the forefront with hints of nutmeg and dried fruit. dry Juniper on the finish also reminds me of Simnel Cake. Mrs. B was a fan.

3) Martini
Not classic in style but quite tasty. Rather soft with some subtle hints of spice. Some Juniper but not ovewhelming.

4) Negroni
Fresh crisp and rather bitter. Dryness of the juniper is quite strong; a rather classic Negroni with a slight twist from a slight softening of drink by the sweet spice in the gin. Lovely.

5) Gin Buck
This work really well the warm sweet spice and the ginger are great partners. Very tasty, slightly festive and even better with a squeeze of lime.

6) Shady Tree
After the Gin Buck I thought this would work well and it does! Great mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. a sweet complex concoction and the lime stops it from being too sweet.

7) Fruit Cup
Quite sweet, spicy and incredibly refreshing. Another classic combo of Ginger, cinnamon and Nutmeg as well as the herbal vermouth. Greta as a late summer cooler.

8 ) Hot Toddy
Lovely the built in spicy notes of the gin make you think that there is a lot more in the drink than gin, honey, lemon and water. Complex spice, very warming and delicious. A good dose of juniper too for the gin fans.

In Conclusion
Edinburgh Gin is quite an unusual gin and certainly has it’s own character. I think later in the year, it will work really well in Hot/Christmas Cocktails. It also works well in herbal drinks due it’s heavy sweet spice flavours. Although it works well in summery cocktails, for me, it’s quite a wintery gin.

Our favourite cocktails were Hot Toddy and Fruit Cup.

Speed Tasting – An Introduction to 11 Boutique Gins

The Boutique Bar Show London is only 2 weeks away (21-22 Sept) and, as usual, will feature a plethora of Boutique drinks brand exhibitors as well as a host of other features. This includes talks, competitions and new product launches.*

The recent boom in new gins coming to market has been led by a range of diverse boutique gins. In preparation for this year’s show, a tasting of Boutique Gins was held at the Graphic Gin Bar, Soho.

In addition to the six gins at the tasting, I have included notes for other gins who will be exhibiting over the two days. Further details can be found here.

To review five gins in the three true tests of a gin (neat, in a G&T and in a Martini) would lead to a mammoth article, so I have, instead, gone with a simple, three word review for each.

Adnams First Rate

From the famous Norfolk Brewers, Adnam’s is available in two varieties: one with 6 botanicals (40% ABV) and another with 13 botanicals (48% ABV); it is this latter “First Rate Gin” that is featured below.

Own: Juniper Spicy Flavourful
Gin & Tonic: Cardamon Cooling Dry
Martini: Classic Dry Floral

Hoxton Gin

It is safe to say that Hoxton Gin takes the traditional gin lover out of their comfort zone. Grapefruit and taragon are not unknown in the world of gin botanicals, but coconut is the real wildcard. Hoxton was developed by Gerry Calabrese as his vision of a gin for the new millennium.

Own: Flamboyant Tropical Confectionery
Gin & Tonic: Fresh Twisted Coconut
Martini: Creamy Coconut Citrus

Gin Mare

Another gin with unusual botanicals can be found in the Mediterranean Gin Mare from Spain. Each of the 10 botanicals is distilled separately and then blended to ensure a better balance. Signature botanicals include: thyme, rosemary, basil and, unusually, olive.

Own: Savory Herbal Intense
Gin & Tonic: Rich Dry Refreshing
Martini: Complex Contemporary “Can-I-Have-Another?”


With Iceberg Gin, it’s all about the purity of the water, which comes from North Atlantic icebergs. The brand considers this to be the least polluted water on earth. Iceberg is a 100% corn-based spirit and has 6 botanicals, including coriander, bark and pepper.

Own: Silky Smooth Earthy
Gin & Tonic: Juniper Clean Zesty
Martini: Pure Subtle Sophisticated

Edgerton Pink

Edgerton Pink is one of the more distinctive gins on the market, not least because it’s pink. Created by the same folks behind London Blue Gin, it is flavoured and coloured with pomegranate. It is produced at Thames Distillery using 14 botanicals including nutmeg, damiana and Grain of Paradise.

Own: Jammy Soft Floral
Gin & Tonic: Fresh Fruity Florid
Martini: Unusual Lasting Berries

Edinburgh Gin

Edinburgh Gin is a Scottish, Art-Deco-styled spirit is made by Spencerfield, the folks behind Sheep Dip and Pig’s Nose Whisky. Edinburgh Gin takes pride from its Caledonian heritage and uses Scottish grain alcohol as well as Scottish botanicals such as milk thistle and heather.

Own: Soft Spicy Festive
Gin & Tonic: Juicy Fresh Cinnamon
Martini: Crisp Creamy Nutmeg

Ish Gin

Modern meets traditional with Ish Gin, a Classic London Dry style with contemporary packaging and an extra boost of juniper for old-school gin lovers. Ish is bottled at 41% ABV, made at Thames Distillers and contains 12 botanicals.

Own: Bold Warm Juniper
Gin & Tonic: Dry Refreshing Flavoursome
Martini: Crisp Fresh Juniper

Sipsmith Gin

Made in the heart of Hammersmith, Sipsmith Gin is produced in one of only four operational gin distilleries in London. The gin contains ten classic botanicals and is bottled at 41.6% ABV.

Own: Classic Balanced Juniper
Gin & Tonic: Refreshing Clean Exemplary
Martini: Powerful Juniper Citrus


Hayman’s London Dry Gin

Created by Christopher Hayman, the great grandson of Beefeater founder James Borough, Hayman’s London Dry Gin is designed to be a very Classic London Dry and, as such, contains rather classic botanicals.

Own: London Dry Gin
Gin & Tonic: Fresh Lemon Classic
Martini: Clean Clean Crisp


Bloom Gin

Created by Joanne Moore, the Master Distiller at Greenall’s Distillery, after she had spent several years as the custodian of the Original 1761 Greenall’s. Bloom was largely inspired by her love of gardening and, as such, contains floral botanicals such as Honeysuckle, Pomelo and Chamomile.

Own: Sweet Soft Floral
Gin & Tonic: Bright, Blossoming, Beautiful
Martini: Delicate Silky Floral


Sacred Gin

Vacuum distilled in Highgate, North London; Sacred Gin is helping to bring back gin distillation to the Capital. Botanical are distilled separately and then blended to create a balanced product. Be sure to try the Cardamon “Final Touch” Gin & Tonic, it’s something of a revelation.

Own: Silky Balanced Flavoursome
Gin & Tonic: Juniper Citrus Powerful
Martini: Unusual Cardamon Lovely

London No.1 Blue Gin
This is a commercially successful gin that is exceptionally popular in Spain. It contains 13 botanicals, including Gardenia, which gives it its blue colour. This is not a London Dry Gin, as the colour is added post-distillation, but this doesn’t effect the flavour.

Own: Warm, juniper, reasonable
Gin & Tonic: Sweet, neutral, easy-to-drink
Martini: Ice-blue, cinnamon, concise

GVINE Flouraison Gin
G’Vine Gin is produced in ___ France. Rather than using the usual grain-based alcohol for its base, G Vine uses grape spirit. It also uses grapevine flower as one of its __ botanicals. In addition to the Flouriason a Nouvaison gin is made, this is at a higher strength and contains a different balance of botanicals. It reminds me strongly of the now defunct Gordon’s Distillers Cut.

Own: Dry, spicy, cardamon
Gin & Tonic: Bold, cardamon, invigorating
Martini: Sprightly, floral, cardamon

This is a gin that was made especially for Portobello Star, a bar in Portobello Road and home of the Ginstitute Gin Museum, a small still and tasting room where visitors can make their own gin. Portobello was designed to be classic in its style with a modern twist, which comes from the inclusion of nutmeg in the botanical mix.

Own: Juniper, nutmeg, pepper
Gin & Tonic: Flavourful, fruity, spicy
Martini: Crisp, classic, contemporary

Bulldog Gin
Launched in 2007, Bulldog was originally promoted as being the perfect spirit for a Gin & Tonic and, more unusually, a Dirty Martini. It is produced at Greenalls and contains a variety of  botanicals including the rather unusual and exotic lotus leaves & dragon eye.

Gin & Tonic: Unusual, mild, juniper-light
Martini: Juniper, Coriander, Twangy

Broker’s Gin
Founded in 1998 and produced at Langley, Brokers contains 10 botanicals and, with its distinctive packaging and bowler hat bottle cap, is quintessentially English. The 47% is very popular in Export Markets and this variety won a plethora of awards.

Own: traditional, london, dry
Gin & Tonic: strong, flavourful, punchy
Martini: Textbook, clean, crisp

Knockeen Hills Heather Gin
Made at Thames Distillers and owned by the same folks behind the excellent Knockeen Hills Irish Poteen, this gin has heather as a prominent botanical, in addition to juniper t is bottled at 47.3%. Its sister gin, made using elderflower, is produced at a lower strength of 43%.

Own: smooth, creamy, floral
Gin & Tonic: Strong, flavourful, fresh
Martini: Creamy, smooth, mellow

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*At least one of the above brand are having their UK launch at Boutique London.