Advertising watchdog upholds complaint on ‘first gin distillery’ claims

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Edinburgh
Edinburgh

Related tags: Distillation, Vodka, Gin

A Scottish gin distillery has come under fire for claiming it was ‘Edinburgh’s first gin distillery in over 150 years.’ 

Pickering’s Gin is made at Summerhall Distillery, and said the claim was intended to present it as the first dedicated gin distillery (rather than making gin alongside other alcoholic drinks) in the time period.

However, the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ruled that this would not have been clear to consumers.

Pickering’s Gin says it will now add the phrase ‘exclusive’ to its marketing material: to reflect that “there may have been other spirits producers dabbling in gin as late as the 1960s.”​  

Marcus Pickering, co-founder of Pickering’s Gin, said, “We have never misled anyone; only stated the truth. There has never been any confusion from any of our customers, members of the public or trade partners.  

“We want to ensure the public know that we were the first distillery exclusively making gin in Edinburgh for 150 years.”

Summerhall Distillery Ltd, which produces Pickering’s Gin, was launched in 2013. It made the ‘first gin distillery in over 150 years’ claims on its website, social media, and local magazine advertising.

However, another Edinburgh gin distillery, Spencerfield Spirit Company Ltd, challenged the claim, a complaint the ASA upheld.

Gin making

Pickering’s Gin was launched in March 2014, and is a small batch premium gin which is distilled, bottled, labelled and sold at Summerhall Distillery. It contains nine botanicals such as juniper, coriander, cardamom and fennel.

In its defence to the ASA, Pickering’s said that other gin distilleries operating in Edinburgh over the last 150 years had been wine merchants, whisky blenders or general distillers: making gin alongside the manufacture of other alcoholic drinks.  

It did not dispute that gin had been made in Edinburgh over the last 150 years, but said there was no evidence of another ‘sole purpose, bricks and mortar’ dedicated gin distillery in the city in this period.

But the ASA said: Consumers would understand the statement ‘Edinburgh's first gin distillery in over 150 years’ as a claim that a gin distillery had not operated within the city during that period and that Pickering's was the first to do so since then.

“We noted Pickering's statement that its claim related to the establishment (not just operation) of a gin distillery, but considered that this was not made clear in the claim and that consumers would not interpret it in this way.

“We also acknowledged its view that it related only to gin-exclusive distilleries, and that a distillery in premises also used for other spirits would therefore not be in the scope of this claim.

“However, the claim did not refer to the 'exclusive' nature of the distillery and we therefore considered that consumers would understand it to relate to all commercial gin distilleries, not just those operating in premises or by companies exclusively manufacturing gin.”

Marcus Pickering of Pickering’s Gin said the company had been working closely with the ASA over the past months to remove any ambiguity in its claims. 

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

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