Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell are the founders of the Summerhall Distillery where Pickering’s is distilled, having converted disused dog kennels on the site of the old Royal (Dick) Veterinary School, Edinburgh in 2013. The original gin is from a Bombay 1947 recipe inherited through a family friend, and featuring nine botanicals.
Fast forward six years and this season they are launching six new uniquely Christmas inspired flavours, including the ubiquitous Brussels sprout flavour. The colourful baubles were so popular in 2016 that they sold out within minutes of going online.
But clearly, the talking point this year is the Brussels Sprout gin. 10,000 Brussels sprouts were used in the distillation, all from a farm in Arbroath and leftover from Christmas 2018. Proceeds from the sale of the sprout baubles will go to a charity Contact the elderly Community Christmas Campaign to provide Christmas lunches for old folk who would otherwise spend the day alone.
Each of these festive gins is made using either Pickering’s Classic Gin or their Original 1947 Gin as a base. Handcrafted at Summerhall Distillery, the gins are all distilled in their copper pot still Gertrude.
Known Botanicals of the Base Gin
There are six flavours to choose from: Christmas Clementine; Festive Cranberry; Spiced Pear & Cinnamon; Plum & Ginger; Figgy Pudding and Brussels Sprout. All the gin baubles taste of gin and at 37.5% ABV are not liqueurs.
Festive Cranberry was the clear favourite in our house. Its sharp fruitiness was perfect for sipping fireside on an autumn evening. Christmas Clementine was next favourite with a sweet orange aroma and taste. Cranberries and oranges are the perfect Christmas fruit. It must be something about their cheerful colours.
The Brussels Sprout gin had the aroma of raw brassicas as you might expect. This, I confess, was slightly offputting. Thankfully, it didn’t taste of sprouts. Rather the flavour is of a mild savoury gin with a hint of cucumber. Surprisingly, the Figgy Pudding bauble turned out to be our least favourite, given that Brussels sprouts were on the menu.
Festive Cranberry with cranberry juice, a pinch of allspice and a dash of simple syrup made for an unusual and very moreish aperitivo.
The Christmas Clementine went down well with a light ginger ale and a garnish of fresh juicy orange.
The Brussels Sprout paired well with plain premium tonic and a sliver of cucumber.
There is a cocktail suggestion for each bauble on the back of the box and on their website.
About the Reviewer
Sue Telford is a gin writer and blogger for her website For the Love of Gin. Her book The Secrets of Sloe Gin is out on Kindle and How to Drink Gin will be published in October 2019 by Red Door Press.
Free gin baubles were provided for this review. All opinions remain those of the reviewer.