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Marcus Pickering of Pickering’s Gin

2017 WeDO Scotland Entrepreneur of the Year Award Winner

Pickering’s Gin, distilled at Edinburgh’s Summerhall Distillery was co-founded by Marcus Pickering and has enjoyed huge success in the highly competitive gin market winning multiple awards.  Marcus shines in his role as Head of Export & Business Development and in November 2017, up against stiff competition, he scooped the prestigious and coveted WeDO Scotland Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Armed with an old Bombay gin recipe and 20 years of building restoration work under their belts, Marcus, along with co-founder Matt Gammell, started Summerhall Distillery in 2013.  Vowing to make it a truly handcrafted product, they built a distillery from scratch in the former dog kennels at the Small Animal Hospital at what was previously the Dick Vet School at the University of Edinburgh. 

In the thick of the Scottish gin revival, Pickering’s has since become the official gin of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo & The Royal Yacht Britannia.  Pickering’s has also partnered with luxury cruise liner Cunard to create gins for its three ships, the Queen Victoria, Queen Mary 2 & the Queen Elizabeth and distills Ginerosity, the world’s first social enterprise gin.  Additionally, It has scooped numerous spirits awards including Best British Gin at the Great British Food Awards and Best British Spirit in the China World Spirits Awards

Pickering’s filled 150,000 bottles last year and has produced over 500,000 bottles since 2013.  They export to 17 countries with turnover of £3.5 million.  The business is on a rapid growth trajectory not least due to its success with gin filled Christmas baubles which sold out in 82 seconds when launched in 2016.  Even US domestic guru Martha Stewart is a fan! 

2017 saw Pickering’s scale production by 33 times from 2016 volumes to meet global demand and produce a million baubles, boosted by funding from Edinburgh based peer-to-peer lender LendingCrowd as part of £2.75 million provided by Scottish Enterprise.  The baubles also scooped the inaugural Innovation of the Year Award at the Scottish Gin Awards.

With more than 35 craft distilleries now in Scotland, offering more than 100 varieties of gin, staying ahead of the competition is a challenge.  Marcus and Matt (who is head distiller as well as co-founder), still come up with a new idea every day.

But you have to remain on brand and keep focused on the core products.  There’s no point in saying we’re going to do gin-filled candy canes next Christmas – there has to be a good reason for it.”

With a core offering of 3 gins distinguishable by their red, orange and black tops, their ancilliary offerings just help sell those products.  The black-topped, navy strength version wears a miniature bearskin hat and came about after winning the deal to supply the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. 

Before launching Pickering’s in 2013, Marcus was Managing Director of Summerhall for 3 years following on from a raft of more than 25 jobs in his earlier career including picture-framing, builder, letting agent & even a butler at Skibo Castle. 

Matt and I were real novices in the drinks trade.  Not a clue but I was given a gin recipe dated 17th July 1947 from a friend of my father’s.  We had a space, we had a recipe, we had a little bit of money and decided to build the distillery ourselves.