Gin advert banned for false claim

Marcus Pickering, left. and Matthew Gammell taste some samples of Pickering's Gin. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Marcus Pickering, left. and Matthew Gammell taste some samples of Pickering's Gin. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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AN advert for a gin distillery which claimed it was the first in Edinburgh for more than 150 years has been banned after a rival disputed the claim.

Gin wars broke out between two producers after Pickering’s Gin opened its new distillery in the Capital last year.

The Spencerfield Spirit Company, run by drinks industry veteran Alex Nicol, said the claim made by Pickering’s in its advertising material was false.

Spencerfield complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and produced historical evidence to show that gin had been distilled in the city during the 20th century.

In a written ruling, the ASA has banned the “misleading” advert, which was featured on Pickering’s website, its social media feed and in a magazine.

Pickering’s said it would now tweak its advertising – adding the word “exclusive” to its marketing material.

The ASA adjudication said: “The ASA considered that consumers would understand the statement ‘Edinburgh’s first gin distillery in over 150 years’ in all the ads as a claim that a gin distillery had not operated within the city during that period and that Pickering’s was the first to do so since then.

“We acknowledged Pickering’s view that it related only to gin-exclusive distilleries, and that a distillery in premises also used for other spirits would therefore not be in the scope of this claim.

“However, the claim did not refer to the ‘exclusive’ nature of the distillery and we therefore considered that consumers would understand it to relate to all commercial gin distilleries, not just those operating in premises or by companies exclusively manufacturing gin.

“Because there was evidence of distillery operations since 1863 . . . we concluded that the claim ‘the first gin distillery to be established in Edinburgh for over 150 years’ had not been substantiated.”

Following the opening of Pickering’s operation at Summerhall last March, Spencerfield quickly followed suit and began distilling gin below the Rutland Hotel in the West End.

Its submission to the ASA included a document from the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, which stated that a warehouse and office complex in Leith were used to distil gin in the 1930s.

Marcus Pickering, co-founder of Pickering’s Gin, said: “Following a complaint to the ASA, we have been working closely with the advertising standards body for some months to ensure that there is no ambiguity whatsoever about our claim to be Edinburgh’s first gin distillery.

“So as such we will adapt our sign-off to say that we are Edinburgh’s first exclusive gin distillery.”