Gin of the month: November

Pickering’s Navy Strength

Stephanie and Michael Whyte entered our competition earlier this month to be our Resident Gin Bloggers, and we loved their entry so much we decided to feature it for our Gin of the Month: November! Here it is:

Just by looking at the Pickering’s Navy Strength Bottle you already know it’s going to be a gin full of character. The bottle comes with its own mini bearskin hat, complete with a tiny chain. This is to mark the collaboration with Pickering's and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Pickering's is a quirky brand, based in Summerhall, Edinburgh. They are very innovative when it comes to their brand vision. Using distinctive red and white colouring, they have thought of everything including a motorbike converted into a gin bar! Launching in 2013, they were the first distillery in the Capital for over 150 years. In fact the gin is distilled in the former kennels of the former Royal Dick Vet School, we highly recommend the tour for the fascinating look at many unconventional but wonderful distilling, bottling and production processes.

The company is surprisingly small and it is nice to know that each bottle of gin’s distinct wax seal has been individually placed on your bottle: a delightful rustic and personal touch! A paper from a family relative dated July 1947 forms the basis of the gin’s secret recipe, kept for quite a few years before becoming what it is today. This Navy strength is one of three gins they have on offer: there’s the 1947 and Original gins but we personally love this one the most. You may argue it’s 57% alcohol levels may have something to do with this, but you really get the proper essence of the gin with all the flavours.

The gin has both sweet and spicy smells to it: think cinnamon, cardamon, oranges and lemons. It smells of autumn or marmalade on toast. Although very drinkable all year round. Some may be put off by the high percentage of alcohol in this and other Navy strength gins but it’s a really smooth, almost velvety drink. With the delicate balance of those sweet and spicy flavours it can easily be enjoyed neat. It’s a beautiful warming drink and wouldn’t taste out of place in a hot toddy. Pickering's say the smoothness of the gin comes from the custom designed still they have for making it - whatever it is, it worked!

In terms of the perfect serve, Pickering's recommend Light Tonic and a slice of Lime. We preferred to bring out more of the sweet and spicy flavours and so paired the gin with a slice of juicy orange and some pink peppercorns along with a light tonic. Having an aromatic tonic would also work well to bring out the juniper which is actually quite subtle in this gin. The slightly sweet and spicy peppercorns and citrusy orange flavours are complimentary to the gin and bring out the zesty warming flavours. The merits of a stronger gin like navy strength ones are that they can withstand a tonic and are not drowned out. For those of you who are not fans of tonic, try adding a splash of Apple Juice or Ginger Beer - remembering less is more!