First gin distillery in 150 years set to open

Marcus Pickering, left, and Matthew Gammell taste the first samples of Pickering's Gin produced at Summerhall. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Marcus Pickering, left, and Matthew Gammell taste the first samples of Pickering's Gin produced at Summerhall. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THE first gin distillery in the Capital in 150 years is set to open its doors this month.

Pickering’s Gin is launching at the end of March with a party that will see 450 people heading down to Summerhall for a tipple.

The distiller is the brainchild of entrepreneur Marcus Pickering and business partner Matthew Gammell who have put every penny they have into creating the perfect spirit.

And after months of preparation the distillery in the former Dick Vet building is finally finished, including a copper pipe running directly to the bar for quality gin on tap.

A number of off-licences and wholesalers have approached the company to try and stock the brand, but the drink’s creators are so confident in the finished product that they will not sign on any dotted lines until people have tasted it at the launch – where they hope to sell up to 500 litres.

Mr Pickering said: “We want suppliers to know what they are selling. We have such belief in our gin, and that it is different and better than others, so we want the industry to try it before they stock it.”

The list of suppliers will be available on the website from March 28.

Tourists will be able to watch the gin being made on Thursdays and Fridays during the summer as Pickering’s plans to open the process up to the public. There will be a schedule of tastings and visitors will even be allowed to blend their own personal gin using ingredients such as heather, coriander and lemon, and take it away.

A small museum will also be built for people to learn the history of the drink.

The event on March 27 in the dissection room at the popular festival venue will feature live music from The Bevvy Sisters and The Loveboat Bad Boys. There will be gin cocktails invented for the drink, although details of these are being kept under wraps.

The gin features nine different botanicals and is described by Mr Pickering as “smooth and citrussy with a tiny hint of spice”.

It is made from an Indian recipe given to Mr Pickering’s father in 1947. It is distilled multiple times and it takes more than two weeks to take the spirit from juniper berry to bottle.

Mr Pickering said: “If you are not satisfied with something and can’t get something you want on the shelves, you should make it yourself. We’ve been working together now for 12 years and gin is another one of these things we want to just make ourselves.

“There are so many companies out there that try to give you a false impression. That’s why we’re saying to people to come into the distillery and meet me and Matt and enjoy what we’re doing. We’ve put everything we have into this.”

Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: “Many areas throughout Scotland have their own breweries and distilleries, and this gets Edinburgh involved in that.

“People are well prepared to support produce made locally. The success of these businesses show that Scottish consumers are looking more locally.”