Fiona Shoop, gin & whisky writer and presenter of The Cocktail Hour radio show
It’s only July but I’m already thinking of Christmas – which begins every year when Pickering’s Gin Baubles go on sale. No Christmas tree is complete without them but Pickering’s isn’t just for the festive period. The Scottish distillery has an exciting range of gins and gin liqueurs and we’re going to explore some of them on The Spirits Embassy Facebook page on 16th July. It will go live on their page at 7pm and you can get involved by asking questions in the chat as we drink together – all without needing to risk the weather and leave our homes.
We’re lucky enough to be joined by the Brand Ambassador from Pickering’s Gin, live from their Summerhall Distillery in Edinburgh, who will tell us all about the gins, the distillery and even take us on a virtual tour. We’ll be trying 5 different gins or gin liqueurs with 5 tonics but will sample the gins and mixers separately and we’ll be treating this like a whisky tasting to get the best out of each measure. Pour just half of each gin into a glass, smell – or nose – it and type into the chat what you think – there’s no wrong answer and it’s not just based on the botanicals themselves. Then taste it – what do you get? It’s not just juniper and lemon. What about favourite sweets from childhood, desserts or flowers?
Some are perfect neat, others really need to be married with mixers. Next, smell and taste the tonic so you can separate the difference once they’re mixed. Then, pour some of the mixer into the gin to suit your taste. What do you smell and taste with them combined – and does it look any different?
By doing it this way, you should have half of each gin at the end to try with other mixers or enjoy in the suggested cocktails. They’re written below so you don’t have to do anything when watching us on Facebook. just enjoy the night – and ask questions. Including when their gin baubles will be on sale – and whether they’re doing Brussels Sprouts Gin again this year. It’s amazing in a Red Snapper!
Order of Drinking
Pickering's Gin - Fever Tree Tonic Water
Botanicals: Juniper, lemon, lime, coriander, anise, Angelica, cardamom, clove and fennel
The classic Pickering’s Gin which forms the backbone of some of the other gins tonight and has double citrus alongside the juniper and spicy botanicals. It’s based on a Bombay recipe dating back to 17th July, 1947 and is the cornerstone of the Edinburgh-based distillery.
Celebrating its 74th birthday the day after the tasting, this Bombay gin was regenerated when Pickering’s Gin’s Summerhall Distillery started operating in 2013, on the site of an old dogs’ kennels in the grounds of the old veterinary hospital which was known as The Old Royal Dick, making it Edinburgh’s first gin-only distillery in 150 years. The award-winning gin was reworked to appeal to modern tastes and was launched in its present form in 2014.
This is a classic gin cocktail from Prohibition times but one with many variations, including some using yellow Chartreuse or Cointreau. It’s an ideal choice for the classic Pickering’s Gin because of the double citrus in the botanicals.
If you aren’t sweet-toothed, reduce the grenadine by half and, for a shorter drink and more intense flavour, mix the Daisy without any soda water.
40ml Pickering’s Gin
10ml Lemon juice
100ml Soda water
Lemon twist or wheel, to garnish
Pour the liquids into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake and strain into a Martini glass, garnish with the lemon.
Pickering’s Gin with Scottish Botanicals – Fever-tree Tonic Water
Botanicals: The 9 botanicals from Pickering’s Gin, plus Scots pine, bog myrtle, milk thistle and heather
Expect to be transported to Scotland when you nose this refreshing gin thanks to the use of Scottish botanicals in addition to the 9 Bombay botanicals in their classic gin.
Bee’s Knees Cocktail
This Prohibition-era cocktail is just the bee’s knees! Honey was originally used to hide the astringent smell of illicit bathtub gin. Some recipes call for honey syrup but runny honey is much easier
50ml Pickering’s Gin with Scottish Botanicals
20ml Lemon juice
1 tbsp runny honey, ideally heather honey
Lemon twist, to garnish
Pour the liquids into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake until mixed and strain into a Martini glass, then garnish with the lemon twist after squeezing it over the cocktail.
Pickering’s Forget Me-Not Gin – Fever-tree Tonic Water
Botanicals: Includes forget-me-not flowers, heather, citrus peels and lemon myrtle, plus butterfly peaflower
I adore forget-me-nots, the shy ground-cover flowers that promise never to forget true love – but I absolutely never thought of using them in gin! This is from a naturally colourful range of Pickering’s gins that also includes Lime and Ginger (crying to be mixed in Gimlets or Red Snappers), Strawberry and Black Pepper and our next gin, Raspberry and Mint.
The blue colour doesn’t just come from the forget-me-nots but from the butterfly peaflower, that magical ingredient which turns drinks pink when tonic water is added – as you’ll see when you mix the two together.
As soon as I saw the floral botanicals, there was only one choice of cocktail for me and it’s a colourful one and one of my favourites – the Aviation. Bitter Truth also sell miniatures of their Violet Liqueur so you don’t have to invest in a full-sized bottle to enjoy it. ASDA used to sell them for £3. The purple ingredient can be used in other cocktails or even just with tonic water for a refreshing long drink.
Not keen on violets? Swap for St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, you’ll still have colour from the gin.
40ml Pickering’s Forget Me-Not Gin
10ml Lemon juice
5ml Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
5ml Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur
Lemon twist or cocktail cherry, to garnish
Pour the liquids into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake, strain and pour into a Martini glass, and garnish.
Pickering’s Raspberry and Mint Gin – Fever-tree Tonic Water
Botanicals: Includes raspberry and mint
It’s worth noting that this is an intensely colourful range but they’re all natural colours and flavours. I’d love to try it with Artisan Drinks Co. Violet Blossom Tonic Water which we’ve enjoyed in a previous gin tasting with The Spirits Embassy, but a simple tonic water will help the flavours shine.
Raspberry and Lemon Drop Martini
This is a fabulous cocktail, a variation on the 1970s-originated Lemon Drop Martini, which always reminds me of Las Vegas where I first drank it after a recommendation from a TripAdvisor and Facebook friend whose favourite cocktail this is and, to her, this is Vegas summed up. It’s colourful and decadent and always leaves you wanting more.
Yes, you could just turn Pickering’s Raspberry and Mint Gin into a Gin Sangria by mixing it with lemonade and adding lots of fruit but there are times that you want more than that and this is definitely more.
Adjust the lemon juice for sweetness – less is more. You can also add 10ml Triple Sec – and even freeze the cocktail to form alcoholic ice lollies.
30ml Pickering’s Raspberry and Mint Gin
15ml Lemon juice
3 raspberries, to garnish
Pour the liquids into a cocktail shaker full of ice, shake and strain into a Martini glass, adding three raspberries on a cocktail stick to garnish.
Pickering’s Pink Grapefruit & Lemongrass Gin Liqueur – Fever-tree Tonic Water
Botanicals: The 9 botanicals from Pickering’s Gin, plus pink grapefruit and lemongrass
Pickering’s first gin liqueur and it’s an unusual and refreshing combination. Grapefruit as a gin ingredient is so much better than it sounds, I love it! For starters, it’s not bitter but adds a juicy twang, pulling on the double citrus ingredients in the original Pickering’s Gin and that immediately made me think of one of my favourite gin cocktails, the Gimlet – which can, incidentally, also be made with vodka.
This is a fascinating combination. I’ve enjoyed grapefruit gin and lemongrass gin but not both together. Perfect for drinking with Thai food or you could make a mug of Teapigs Pure Lemongrass tea, allow it too cool, then pour the tea and the gin liqueur into a gin goblet full of ice and stir – you could also just use dried lemongrass instead of the teabags which will be cheaper but messier. The teabag can also be used 2-3 times or just add 1 to a litre teapot if mixing the lemongrass tea cocktail for friends – don’t forget to garnish it with a pink grapefruit wheel.
I love this historic cocktail which was created in the 19th Century by a British Royal Navy surgeon, Rear Admiral, Sir Thomas Gimlette, to stop sailors from getting scurvy because of vitamin C deficiency. Sadly, it’s not available on the NHS – I did actually check with my doctors (note, plural), just in case!
I don’t use fresh lime because it can have too much of a bite and, when using citrus-based gins or gin liqueurs like Pickering’s Pink Grapefruit & Lemongrass Gin Liqueur, I don’t use the traditional equal parts mix but reduce the amount of cordial/lime used to 4 parts gin to 3 parts cordial .
40ml Pickering’s Pink Grapefruit & Lemongrass Gin Liqueur
30ml Rose’s Lime Cordial
Grapefruit or lime wheel, to garnish
Pour the liquids into an Old-fashioned glass full of ice, stir and garnish with the wheel of lime or grapefruit.
And that’s 4 great gins and a gin liqueur from Edinburgh’s Pickering’s Gin, all available to be enjoyed live from the comfort of your home with The Spirits Embassy.
To buy a tasting set for 16th July which comes with 5 x 30ml measures of the listed Pickering’s gins and gin liqueur, plus 5 FREE Fever-tree tonics and a FREE branded picnic bag, all for just £18, pus P&P, go to https://thespiritsembassy.com/products/pickering-gin-tasting-5-x-30ml-plus-5-tonics
Hope to see you there! If you’re not free on the night, you can always taste along with the video on Facebook at a later date. You won’t be able to ask the Brand Ambassador or me any questions on the night or interact with the others taking part in the chat which is part of the fun of live tastings BUT it means that you don’t have to miss out.
Keep an eye on The Spirits Embassy website for future gin, whisky and rum tastings, as well as a great range of spirits, including gin – plus, when it’s the festive season, Pickering’s Gin Baubles, the ultimate taste of Christmas. Santa says you deserve them! https://thespiritsembassy.com/collections/tasting