The story starts when the owners of the University of Edinburgh’s Dick Veterinary college, enlisted the help of our co-founders (but builders by trade back then) for the renovation of the site into the bustling arts and exhibitions venue, Summerhall, that it is today.
Our brilliant co-founders Matt and Marcus had the thought of transforming the disused dog kennels into a working distillery (after all, there was Barney’s brewery and the Royal Dick pub on sight already). But they were lacking something... Oh yes, that’s right! A still! The first ever Pickering’s still, bought from eBay, could only hold 1L of our tasty gin. Once the pair had perfected their recipe they soon discovered that they were going to need something more heavy duty to cope with demand. What had started as a Sunday hobby for them rapidly skyrocketed and soon enough, Gertrude and Emily, were built! These girls now hold 500L each and have gone on to create every bottle of our multi-award winning range of 16 (and counting!) expressions.
Now, we all know what makes us Pickering’s is our inventive, remarkable and unrelenting characteristics to any obstacle in our way. And you’ll be pleased to hear that’s true right the way down to the labels! As we look back on our last 5 years, it’s important to commemorate those we’ve lost along the way. For 3 years, Mabel the labeller, who was made from a few boards of MDF and a phone charger, lovingly branded every bottle in just the right way. But as popularity grew, Mabel couldn’t cope and she was disgracefully retired in 2016 to make way for our whizzy new machine who can now label up to 1000 bottles per hour to meet demand.
Working alongside the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has long been one of our proudest milestones. As so many will know, tattoos and gin rarely mix well… but not in our case! We may have never created our fan favourite 57.1% Navy Strength gin equipped with the iconic Bearskin hat, without this partnership. Since then, we have moved this expression over into our core range, and it has been replaced with our tartan-clad special edition: Pickering's gin with Scottish botanicals. The perfect gin to be the official sponsor of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
Mr. Pickering’s Great Uncle, Captain George Gibbons CBE RD RNR, captained the legendary Cunard transatlantic liner, The Queen Mary in 1936. So naturally, our partnership with the luxury Cunard line in 2017 has been a particularly personal and emotional milestone to the Pickering’s team. Our 3 bespoke expressions, exclusively available on their respective flagships (Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth) and direct from the distillery in Summerhall, Edinburgh, are uniquely distilled to celebrate the routes that they sail.
Now, this celebration of achievements would not be complete without talking about opening the first ever gin and seafood bar in Beijing in 2018. The Pickering’s Gin and Seafood bar located in the Chaoyang District of the capital. A particularly huge achievement for our small independent distillery as it means everything to us to be helping to put our home country, and all of the amazing produce that Scotland has to offer, on the global map.
Thank you to all of our #Ginfriends, stockists, distributors, suppliers, and staff for the last 5 years of support. We truly can’t wait to show you what we are getting up to now, roll on 6 years - it’s going to be a big one.