Some inventive folks in Edinburgh have started ageing their gin in Islay casks and we wanted to see what the result tastes like. Jack investigates. Verdict? Not as smoky as we were expecting for something that just spent months in an Islay cask. And is it still gin? Absolutely…
£36 for 35cl
Scottish Gin + Islay Whisky Casks = ?
Launched back in May, and straight out of Edinburgh’s Summerhall Distillery (the first ‘gin only’ distillery to open in Edinburgh in over 150 years…), this is one of five oak aged gins from craft distiller Pickering’s.
Aged for 3-6 months in Islay whisky casks (which yields only 200 bottles) – each cask was hand picked from distilleries all over the country to be part of the experiment. Asides from the Islay, there’s casks from Speyside, the Lowlands, Islands and the Highlands – making for a total of 1000 gin bottles and what appears to be full coverage of Scotland’s regional styles of whisky.
As for Pickering’s Gin itself, it’s based on an original Bombay recipe that supposedly dates back to 1947. Founders Marcus Pickering and Matt Gammell have built a spiritous bridge between the worlds of gin and whisky, and we think it’s time that everybody crossed it…
We Drink It, Stuff Happens
First Impression / Nose
Light gold – you can see it has had wood (huehueh), and a wax seal. Oh Pickerings, you so fancy…
No peat smoke as expected on the nose – do the basset hound thing and you shall eventually detect it somewhere beneath the juniper. Then there’s that sharp, clean note juniper, dialled down a bit – not so full on. Maybe a little lavender and honeysuckle – slightly sweet. It’s more ‘clean’ (herbaceous) than ‘smoky’ – with bergamot, citrus peel, rubber and lavender
Unmistakably a gin once it hits the tongue. Sweetness, with less heat than you may expect from the nose. Swallow and… sweetness turns to juniper and pine leaves. Early on the sweetness is subtly honeydew – and a bit more heavily with the spicy cloves. Then there’s also a grassy citrus – toned down bergamot thing going on. Something herbal – maybe rosemary?
Slightly acerbic and strongly herbaceous. There are juniper and pine notes – and the ‘peat smoke survivorship bias’, but not too much. Quite a long and piney smokey finish – pretty distinct, again – bergamot and citrus peel.
The juniper/pinewood notes merge quite nicely with the peat smoke for what is a sharp, distinctive flavour. Combined with the sweetness it fades into something that, at some point, vaguely/finally fades into a taste reminiscent of some kind of bergamot heavy, key lime cake.
Drink a little more and the heat mellows out – and you basically end up drinking full on sweet smokey.
If you like gin, there’s a very high chance that this will work for you. If you’re an Islay fan looking for a very peaty gin, you probably won’t find that here. In terms of the cost – I think you pay a premium for the novelty value, but it doesn’t deliver enough on the Islay cask flavour to really be called a novelty.
Certainly one for the dedicated gin drinker, and a very tasty gin at that – but a bit pricey for what you get.