Over the next series of blog posts we want to talk about what makes our 1533 Gin unique, our botanicals.
Botanicals are essentially the herbal and plant ingredients
that flavour a Gin, and it is the unique combination and blending of these
botanicals which lends each Gin its distinct flavour and character.
Today, let’s talk about the daddy of all botanicals, let’s
talk about Juniper.
To make a fair comparison here, think of juniper as the
equivalent of hops to a brewer or grapes to a vintner.
The list of potential botanicals that can be used to make
Gin is vast (which is what makes Gin so interesting and versatile!) but the
essence, and indeed the legal definition of Gin, is that
juniper must be the dominant flavour, as this is what defines the class of
spirit. It is therefore the only botanical that is in all gins.
Recent trends have brought heavily sweetened and flavoured
Gins to the market which are dominated by flavours other than Juniper, which
push the limits of the definition of Gin somewhat, but the pendulum is starting
to swing back the other way now, with consumers increasingly aware of the
complexity and heritage of Gin and looking for more juniper “heavy” gins, as we
call them in the industry.
So let’s get into it and talk about Juniper, the king of all
the botanicals and the defining organic of the industry!
are evergreen coniferous trees, part of the cypress family, and grow widely
in the Northern Hemisphere. Indeed this is a remarkably hardy plant and can
grow as a low spreading shrub or a small tree. It is famous for having one of
the highest tree lines on Earth with a forest in the Himalaya growing at
The berries are actually the female seed cones, in most species they are blue, looking very much like blueberries, but in some they can also be red-brown or orange. The number of Juniper species is contentious, but it is commonly agreed that there are over 50 juniper species.
Gin producers are fully aware of the diversity of all these
species. Indeed, much like the terroir of grape production has a huge impact on
the flavour of wine, the same can be said of Juniper for Gin. Berries from different countries and indeed,
berries that grow at different altitudes, can have distinctly different
properties and character which distillers use to impart unique flavours to
We use two types of juniper in our 1533. We have selected Italian Juniper and Macedonian Juniper, and in combination, these berries create an incredible citrus and pine note which balances our hemp seed beautifully and gives us our juniper dominant smooth Gin.
Juniper berries are harvested by hand from October to
February and (to get technical for a minute!) the flavour actually comes from
the oils within the seeds inside the berries. These are alpha-Pinene,
p-terpineol and camphor. (Yawn J)
I find this stuff fascinating which is why I love what I do! Distillers buy
Juniper by weight and some dry their seeds for 2 years before use, which
dehydrates the seed but the oils within the seeds remain preserved. Seeds are always used dry in the macerating
process prior to distillation as the alcohol permeates the skin of the seed and
releases these organics to be drawn across and flavour the Gin during
Juniper provides a characteristic flavour, classically
fragrant with pine and lavender with a citrus kick and a peppery finish.
All hail the magic of Juniper!