British Airways is one of oldest continuous operating airlines in the world. They celebrated their 100th anniversary by commissioning a special edition gin from Summerhall Distillery, creators of Pickering’s Gin. The airline exclusive gin celebrates travel through a botanical bill that spans continents— including the Australian signature Lemon Myrtle.
Brilliantly designed to overcome the reduction in taste capabilities and other sensory changes presented by flying, Pickering’s British Airways Gin is unusual in design. This review is being done at Denver altitude (a modest 5,280 feet), and at normal home atmospheric conditions. This is not the context for which it was designed, though pandemic related travel restrictions resulted in the airline exclusive being made available to ground consumers in late 2020.
Aroma: Bold with fleeting hints or rose giving way to an assertive and resinous juniper and cardamom nose. Herbaceous lemon lingers on the edges. Complex and intriguing.
Flavor: While there are many bold, botanical-forward gins available on the global market, it’s immediately evident that one of the ways that Summerhall sought to overcome the sensory muting on aircraft was through increased botanical intensity.
Lemon and juniper early. Mild, cinnamon bark with a slight candy edge comes on mid-palate and lasts through the finish. Warmth builds as some spice begins to come through. Although not listed on the back, piquant dry coriander lends complexity to the gentle baking spice notes at the back of the palate.
Juniper stars; however, much more is present.
Finish: Pleasant, moderate warmth and moderate astringency. It’s dry, but not overpowering. Lingering baking spice and pine/green juniper linger.
On airlines, often spirits are served with mixers. Pickering’s airline gin seems perfectly designed for the gin and tonic though it’s powerful botanical bill makes it an ideal mixer, where other sub 45% ABV gins often come up short. At only 38.3%, this gin brings juniper flavor to even a Negroni.
I’m impressed, because while some gins that meet the EU minimum, but come below the US minimum often can be shy or overpowered when mixed. This gin could work well behind the bar at sea level as well.
Overall, Pickering’s Gin (British Airways exclusive)
What a way to celebrate a centennial. Pickering’s British Airways Gin is a well-made, botanically intense gin that celebrates juniper, but in balance with other flavors.
I don’t know what I would think if I first encountered it in the air. However, on the ground I’m impressed.