Summerhall Distillery, home of award-winning Pickering’s Gin, was last night awarded Visit Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction at the Central and East Scottish Thistle Awards Regional Final.
The distillery, which was founded by Matt Gammell and Marcus Pickering in 2013, is situated in the former small animal kennels of Edinburgh University’s old Veterinary School “The Dick Vet”- now Summerhall. The repurposed space became Edinburgh’s first exclusive gin distillery in over 150 years, and was built from scratch using materials reclaimed from the Vet School or designed by the founders themselves. It is an unlikely base for a global gin brand, but one that has been delighting visitors from across the globe since their first batch of Pickering’s Gin was distilled in 2014.
The tiny 400 square feet distillery welcomes groups of 20 people at a time and shows how premium gin is distilled, bottled, waxed and dispatched, all on site. The tours have proven so popular that the distillery has doubled their number of tour guides, and added tours on a Sunday to keep up with demand.
Each tour starts with a P&T from the Gin Tap installed at the adjoining pub (which is piped direct from the distillery of course), and guests spend an hour learning and sampling their way around the working distillery. The tour is peppered with adventures (and mishaps) involved with steering a new gin company through the recent boom in the spirit’s popularity.
Victoria Anderton, Visitor Experience Manager for Pickering’s Gin, believes the success of the tours is how different they are to a traditional distillery tour.
“Our guests have often visited larger whisky distilleries and often the experience can be a bit impersonal and with quite generic facts about distillation. Additionally, a lot of the process will be done in another location- like the bottling for instance. In contrast, we like to keep ours fun and informal- giving our guests a real insight into how you make gin start-finish.”
Marcus Pickering, co-founder, adds, “ Provenance and transparency are so important in explaining the success of craft gin over the past few years.
People assume that when you’re exporting and products like our Pickering’s Gin Baubles are available in places like John Lewis that we must make everything in a big warehouse somewhere. That’s so far from the truth- we’ve got a hardworking team who distil, bottle (and bauble) everything from our home here at Summerhall”.
The Thistle Award is the latest trophy in the Pickering’s cabinet. They were recently awarded a 5 * Tour by Visit Scotland, a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor and a number of awards at the inaugural Scottish Gin Awards.