A Pickering’s Gin Jolly

Gin is on the up. In the face of hundreds of new micro-breweries making the most of relaxed alcohol laws over the past couple of years, I'm assured that Pickering's Gin three year-old brand is now considered an old name by modern standards. A sweep of UK and international awards are testament to the impact the brand has already had on the industry – it even tastes good too. Pickering's Gin Jolly is a slow-paced but enjoyable tour through their Summerhall-based distillery.

The tour guide manages to turn a catalogue of distilling history into a lightly informative hour

Despite the strong concoctions, Pickering's Gin Jolly is a light walk through the history of the brand and of gin distillation through the ages. Their own distinctive recipe goes back to one family's Indian gin recorded in 1974 – with some of the harsher spices dropped for milder alternatives. After months of tweaking the ingredients for a British palette – largely through some understandably popular tasting parties for their friends – the men settled on their final product. This is where they brew, bottle and package their entire output throughout the year.

Based in the former dog kennel of Summerhall's former veterinary medicine campus, the squeezed-in distillery is a testament to today's surge of small-scale productivity, made possible by advances in technology and the sheer will and passion of a hand-bottled brewery. The tour doesn't move beyond its four small walls, but the metal brewing barrels and large bronze tankards (one of which is named "Emily", for obvious reasons) suffice as company.

You won't find much of excitement here, but there's just enough of a narrative in how they put the distillery together to keep you interested as you sip on your complimentary cocktail. The tour guide manages to turn a catalogue of distilling history into a lightly informative hour (the alcohol helps). I'd recommend to anyone keen on learning about gin and sampling various strengths, or who's looking for a less-pressurised hour between their frenzied Fringe schedules.

Reviews by Henry St Leger

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The Blurb

The stage is set. Join us for a tour of Summerhall Distillery as we raise the curtain on how award-winning Pickering’s Gin is made. We’ll meet you in the Summerhall Courtyard before introducing you to the curvaceous delights of our stills, Gert and Emily. If you’re lucky you may even see them in action. There’s also room for audience participation: you’ll get to sample our full range of gin, metres from where it was distilled, before enjoying a complementary Pickering’s and tonic straight from the gin tap back at the Airstream Cocktail Bar.